MEMO FROM MEXICO: Mexican Media Elites Lighten Up On Trump—Rank-And-File Mexicans Agree With Him And Want Guatemala Border Closed!
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I watched President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign kickoff in Orlando, Florida, while here in Mexico. Mexican analysts’ much-calmer analysis was quite the contrast to June 2015, when Trump came down the escalator in Trump Tower and vowed to build a wall (How quaint that now seems!) Yet something else might be at work: Solid majorities of Mexicans think like Trump on immigration, the polling data show, and favor closing the border with Guatemala and deporting Central American illegals.

After Trump’s announcement four years ago, the Mexican chattering class went berserk and presented him as Mexico’s No. 1 Enemy. The mindless Trump-bashing went on for some time. But this time, rather than frothing at the mouth, Mexican media elites delivered a much more measured message. In contrast, U.S. elites are still frothing over an election they lost fair and square!

What changed? I attribute the shift to five factors:

  • TRUMP IS PRESIDENT: Mexico’s diplomatic relationship with the U.S. is by far its most important. Politics and diplomacy are about finding common interests, not about liking people. So Mexican officials have gotten used to the reality that Trump is president and they must deal with him.
  • MEXICANS LEARNED THAT TRUMP’S BARK IS WORSE THAN HIS BITE: Like Americans, Mexicans have seen Trump fail to clamp down on illegal immigration in the ferocious way he promised.
  • THE AMLO PRESIDENCY: Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (“AMLO”) was Mexico’s perennial far-left candidate. During the 2018 Mexican election, we heard dire predictions that he would be in constant conflict with Trump. But that hasn’t happened. Indeed, he goes out of his way not to start trouble with Trump, not least because he wants the U.S. to pitch in lots of money for the massive international aid and development project he has proposed. And remember, as I reported in my coverage of Mexico’s election: The (relatively) right-wing Ricardo Anaya, not AMLO, was the biggest Trump-basher of the campaign. 
  • DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE ON THE BORDER: Most illegal aliens entering the U.S. used to be Mexicans. Now, about 70 percent, S. border officials say, are Central Americans who enter through Guatemala, then traverse some 2,000 miles of Mexico to our southwest frontier. Grassroots Mexicans aren’t happy about it, but more on that later. Mexican analysts marveled that Trump portrayed Mexico as an ally in stopping illegal immigration. In 2015, he portrayed Mexico as the enemy.
  • THE TARIFF THREAT: Trump’s recent tariff threat scared AMLO. He sent his very competent foreign affairs team, led by Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, to negotiate a deal in which Mexico committed to crack down more on non-Mexicans passing through to the U.S. There’s no guarantee it will follow through long term. But it is an opportunity to slow or stop the Camp-of-the-Saints invasion, which sent 144,278 illegals across the border in May alone [Southwest Border Migration FY 2019,] Of course, Trump must stay focused on the situation.

Bottom line: AMLO wants a good relationship with the U.S. and is willing to deal with Trump. The two meet in September, a confabulation that AMLO is linking, Bloomberg reported,  to the evaluation period in the tariff-immigration deal:

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he’d be willing to have his first meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in September after the U.S. leader said he was interested in such an encounter. Lopez Obrador said he could visit Washington or host Trump in Mexico, but he’d prefer to wait until after the agreed upon 90-day evaluation period of Mexico’s crackdown on illegal border crossings had concluded.

[After Trump Says He’d Like to Meet, AMLO Eyes Date in September, by Nacha Cattan, June 21, 2019]

Now here’s where things get really interesting: As I reported two weeks ago, some Mexicans don’t like the deal. They argue that AMLO capitulated to Trump, that it forces Mexico to do our dirty work, and that Mexico should let migrants pass through. 

But rank-and-file Mexicans don’t necessarily agree. They’re as fed up with illegal immigration as we are.

Thus Mexico’s equivalent to the Wall Street Journal, El Financiero, asked 410 adults, June 14-16, about the tariff-immigration deal, then other general questions about immigration. [Aumenta el rechazo ciudadano a migrantes en México y crece apoyo el cierra de la frontera (Citizen Rejection of Migrants in Mexico Increases and Support for Closing the Border Grows), by Alejandro Moreno, June 20, 2019]

Only 16 percent agreed the deal was “a success for Mexico.” Just 22 percent thought it was a “failure.” Only 5 percent don’t know, yet the majority, 57 percent, said the answer is “not yet known.”

That’s reasonable because the answer is indeed unknown.

Then came the sovereignty question, always a big one in Mexican relations with the U.S.:

Some people think that the government of Mexico acted with dignity in the negotiation with the United States, but others think that Mexico folded/gave in to/submitted to the government of that country. What do you think?

The majority, 52 percent, think Mexico acted with dignity, while 41 percent said Mexico folded. Seven percent didn’t know.

So while many do, indeed, think Mexico rolled over for Trump, a slim majority don’t.

Interestingly, those surveyed don’t have a lot of confidence in President Trump’s keeping our side of the bargain. “Do you think that President Donald Trump is going to respect the agreements with Mexico or is not going to respect them?” the newspaper asked. A strong majority, 64 percent, said no. Thirty-one percent said yes and 5 percent don’t know.

Those of us who voted for Trump identify (alas!) with the 64 percent. After all of Trump’s broken promises, I don’t have that much confidence in him either, although I’d have loved to be proven wrong.

Also amusing, if not heartening, are the answers to questions about what Mexico should do with the Central Americans. Like Trump, Mexicans agree think Central Americans belong in Central America and don’t want them in Mexico any more than we want them here.

“What do you think the government of Mexico should do about the migrants who seek to enter the United States through our territory?” El Financiero asked. The answers generated the story’s lead:

Sixty-three percent (63%) of those consulted in a poll taken by El Financiero are of the opinion that the Mexican government should close the border to the migrants. This is nine points higher than it was two weeks ago, when it was at 54%.

That’s a rather significant increase in just two weeks. Only 35% said “migrants should be supported and facilitated in their passage through Mexican territory.”

A tracking chart that goes back to April 14 shows that those who want to “close the border to migrants” is up and down, but never drops below 54%. So a consistent majority say to close the bord`er. Those who want to “help the migrants and give them free passage through Mexico” peaked at 43 percent on June 4.

Even more significant are the firm majorities who want to send the National Guard to the border to stop the mass migration and who also want to deport those “who pass through … without documents.” 

Sixty-eight percent want the Guard at the border, versus 29 percent who don’t, while a whopping 75 percent believe the illegals should be deported, versus 21 percent who don’t (4 percent didn’t know).

And 67 percent agreed that “Mexico should militarize the southern border and stop the migration toward the United States.” Only 31 percent disagreed.

Consistent with those sentiments, 60 percent disagreed that “Mexico should accept that the migrants who arrive to the northern border stay in our territory [the Mexican side] until their asylum petitions are resolved in the United States.” Just 36 percent want to let the migrants stay.

Can you blame them?

So whatever Mexicans think of the tariff deal, relations with the U.S., Trump or Trump’s trustworthiness, they think Mexico should control its own border.

That fits with statements I’ve seen on Mexican article comment boards.

Grassroots Mexicans want immigration control and don’t want Central Americans (and others) running roughshod over Mexico.

But Trump has to act as well. AMLO’s promises are no substitute for the U.S. getting control of its border, ending catch-and-release, and ceasing to reward illegals for dragging children along.

That’s why Trump must keep his promise to begin deporting illegals in two weeks if Democrats won’t agree to a solid border-control deal that ends the Central American invasion.

American citizen Allan Wall (email him) moved back to the U.S.A. in 2008 after many years residing in Mexico. Allan's wife is Mexican, and their two sons are bilingual. In 2005, Allan served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his articles are archived here; his News With Views columns are archived here; and his website is here.


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