SALT LAKE CITY — President Donald Trump said Tuesday he has a secret agreement with Mexico and has the paper to prove it.
As the president left the White House for a trip to Iowa, he waved a single piece of paper that he said was part of a “very long and very good” secret deal with Mexico, The New York Times reported.
"Right here is the agreement," Trump said. "It's very simple. It's right here. And in here is everything you want to talk about. Done. It's done. It's done."
He added: "That's the agreement that everybody says I don't have."
Trump refused to describe the nature of the agreement, but claimed that it would go into effect whenever he desired, according to the Times.
"I just give you my word and I would love to do it but you will freeze action it," Trump told reporters, NBC reported. "You will stop it, you will analyze it. Every single letter you'll see. But in here is the agreement."
A Washington Post photographer snapped a picture of the document and could make out the following phrase: “the Government of Mexico will take all necessary steps under domestic law to bring the agreement into force with a view to ensuring that the agreement will enter into force within 45 days.”
Trump's claim he has an agreement comes three days after he announced a deal to avert tariffs with Mexico. After a weeklong standoff with the Mexican government, Trump walked back his threat of tariffs, saying that the two countries had reached an agreement to manage the migrant crisis at the border, according to Time.
But that deal faced criticism after it was reported that the agreement did not significantly change or augment plans for stemming the flow of migration toward the United States that the two nation’s hadn’t already agreed to, according to NBC.
Stung by such criticism, the Associated Press reported, Trump began suggesting Monday that there were secret agreements that would soon be announced.
“We have fully signed and documented another very important part of the Immigration and Security deal with Mexico, one that the U.S. has been asking about getting for many years,” Trump tweeted Monday, adding that it will “be revealed in the not too distant future.”
Trump has stated that Mexico is not yet able to publicly acknowledge the agreement because it first must go through its legislature, NBC reported.
But Mexico has flatly denied the existence of any such undisclosed deal. In fact, Trump’s paper-waving comes just one day after Mexico’s foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard waved a piece of paper of his own.
During a Monday news conference, Ebrard held up a piece of paper and pointed to previously announced details, telling reporters that the two countries had agreed on a course of action last Friday and that further options would only be discussed if those measures were not effective in slowing migration, according to the Associated Press.
“There is no other thing beyond what I have just explained,” said Ebrard.
This back-and-forth is the latest flashpoint in what has been a complicated political relationship between Trump and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, according to the Associated Press.
The Trump administration has long been exerting pressure on Mexico to enter into a “safe third country agreement,” according to the Associated Press. Such an agreement would deem Mexico a safe place for migrants and would require migrants to seek asylum in the first country they reach, making it more difficult for migrants to wait until they reach American soil to file an asylum claim.
But the deal announced Friday did not address that provision.
A senior Trump administration official told the Associated Press that Mexico had “expressed openness to the idea during negotiations.”
Mexico has insisted it has not agreed to the "safe third country" deal, and that doing so would require the approval of local lawmakers. During a Monday press conference in Mexico City, Ebrard said that if the Friday deal did not reduce the number of migrants in the next 45 days, officials from the U.S. and Mexico would come back to the table to discuss the issue again, the Associated Press reported.
Such talks would involve the U.S. pushing for a safe third country agreement once again, and Mexico proposing the establishment of a regional refugee system, working with the United Nations and the governments of Guatemala, Panama and Brazil, according to the Associated Press.
Mexico has expressed concern that a safe third country agreement would increase the number of asylum applications it receives, more than the country’s resources would be able to handle, according to the Associated Press.
In negotiations for the deal reached Friday, officials did agree toexpand the “Remain in Mexico” program, according to Time. Some experts have called it “safe-third country-lite,” in which Central American asylum seekers would be required to wait in Mexico until their asylum status is granted.31 comments on this story
In January, the Department of Homeland Security implemented “Remain in Mexico” as a pilot program, according to Time. Utah Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican, may have paved the way for the plan during a trip to Mexico and Guatemala in early November. Lee told the Deseret News in November that he floated a similar plan with officials in the administration of Enrique Pena Nieto, the then-outgoing president of Mexico, and those in Obrador’s administration.
But some experts say Mexico is not a safe place for migrants. According to a July 2017 report by Human Rights First, migrants and refugees face “acute risks of kidnapping, disappearance, sexual assault, trafficking and other grave harms in Mexico.”