June 12, 2019

President Trump waved a folded sheet of paper at reporters multiple times on Tuesday, claiming it was the secret deal he claimed his administration had reached with Mexico on Central American migrants. Trump did not let reporters read the paper, but photographers took plenty of photos, and thanks to a little backlighting, it's clear the paper wasn't blank. The Washington Post was able to reconstruct much of what the paper said, and the low-level officials who signed it: A U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state, Marik String, and Alejandro Celorio Alcantara, a deputy legal adviser in Mexico's Foreign Ministry.

The document also doesn't appear to be secret — Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard disclosed much of its contents on Monday, and he elaborated on Tuesday evening. The document has language suggesting that Mexico might consider changing its laws to facilitate a regional "safe third party" asylum system, subject to "domestic and international legal obligations," in which migrants would have to apply for asylum in the first country they enter.

Ebrard said Tuesday that Mexico has 45 days to significantly stem the flow of migrants to the U.S., and if at that point the U.S. says there isn't enough progress, "safe third country could be applied if we fail, and we accept what they say." He said Mexico had not agreed to implement a "safe third country" system, which would need approval by Mexican lawmakers, and it probably won't enact such a measure outside of a regional agreement involving countries like Panama and Brazil.

On CNN Tuesday night, Chris Cuomo was losing patience for Trump's theatrics.

"I just don't get the need for the exaggeration here," Cuomo said. You can disagree with Trump's methods and acknowledge that Mexico had already agreed to most of the measures, but "look, the threat of the tariffs moved them," so "why does he have to do that with the paper?" Peter Weber

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