The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.
Senator Ron Johnson is right: the deal the Trump administration inked with Mexico is a brilliant win, made possible only by the President’s promise to take real action.
As Johnson discussed in his Fox News Sunday interview, the crisis on our southern border is at a critical juncture. The news is out about the loopholes and flaws in our asylum system, our utter inability to effectively process adults who arrive with children, and the strain on enforcement resources caused by a ten-year high in illegal alien apprehensions.
What began as the Central American “caravan” wave has escalated into a full-blown humanitarian disaster as huge groups of migrants from as far away as Congo and Angola line up to take advantage of what they’ve heard is an open door into America.
We’re finally turning a corner, but it’s not thanks to congressional Democrats, most of whom denied there was even a crisis until recently, and almost all of whom have consistently obstructed the measures that our law enforcement officials at the border say is necessary to secure the border.
Mexico, seeking to avoid the imminent imposition of emergency tariffs on their exports to the U.S., is acceding to American demands by taking steps to crack down on illegal immigration.
The Mexican National Guard will be deployed throughout the country to stop the caravans from marching through its territory. Enforcement on Mexico’s own southern border — which in the past has often been little more than cursory in the face of massive migrant groups — will be stepped up. The program that allows asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while their claims are adjudicated in the U.S. will also be expanded.
These measures will drastically reduce the incentives that are drawing hundreds of thousands of poor migrants to our border.
We finally have the Mexican government’s commitment to do its part, a goal that had eluded American negotiators for decades. The supposedly dire consequences of President Trump’s tariff plan will never come to pass, because the mere threat of tariffs was all that was needed to secure this crucial victory.
The New York Times strongly implied the Trump administration was pulling a fast one on the American people, claiming Mexico had already agreed to several of the concessions previously.
To buy that nonsense narrative, one would have to ignore the fact that Mexico declined to make any formal commitments until the new tariffs were about to go into effect, at which point it offered even greater cooperation than previously discussed.
In all negotiations, talk is cheap. Successive administrations of both parties have tried a multitude of tactics over the years to get the Mexican government to do its part to stop illegal migration. This administration itself has been in talks with our Mexican partners since Donald Trump took office. “Tentative” agreements, “understandings,” and “frameworks” didn’t stop the caravans; only concrete action will accomplish that.
The border crisis is quickly getting out of control. It was time to put every option on the table, and that included tariff deadlines — a bold tactic that threatened to hit Mexico where it hurt most.
Like President Trump, Senator Johnson is a businessman’s businessman. He spent decades in manufacturing, the sector most directly affected by trade policy. He was elected to office and has voted as a true free trader.
If Ron Johnson is supporting the President’s use of tariffs, then it’s a safe bet that it was a judicious strategy.
Naysayers predicted an escalating trade war that would hurt U.S. businesses and consumers, but they were wrong. President Trump knew the hand he was playing far better than they did. He understood that the size of the American market and its importance to the Mexican economy meant tariffs would inflict a lot more pain south of the border than north of it. He also appreciated how important it was to spur Mexico to action given the rapidly deteriorating situation at the border.
President Trump made a bold play, and it paid off. As Sen. Johnson pointed out, the deal we just struck with Mexico is a major victory for America that came about solely because the President was willing to take decisive action.
–Kelly Ruh, of De Pere, is the 8th Congressional District chair for the Republican Party of Wisconsin.