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Understanding US-Mexico immigration deal and what drives Central American families to migrate

Trump, a Republican, has made stemming illegal immigration a signature issue of his presidency.


Immigration: Central theme of Trump administration

US President Donald Trump has made immigration a central theme of his administration but has grown increasingly frustrated with the ballooning numbers of mostly Central American families crossing the US-Mexico border and turning themselves into US authorities.

Trump has often described the situation as an 'invasion' and an 'onslaught,' blaming it for crime and drugs entering the United States. But the issue of migration on the southwest border is complex and has evolved over the years. 


What is driving Central American families to migrate?

Migrants are fleeing violence, political turmoil and economic distress in their home countries. US officials say word has spread that the United States is releasing families.

Democrats in Washington have criticised Trump for cutting aid to the region in apparent retaliation for the flows of migrants, which they say exacerbates the problems and spurs people to flee.


Mexico averts tariff, signs deal with the US

Mexico`s government had reached a deal with the United States on Friday to avert a tariff war by pledging to take 'strong measures' to contain migration of mostly Central Americans crossing the southern US border.

The two countries agreed upon the deal days after Trump had threatened to impose 5 per cent import tariffs on all Mexican goods.

The tariffs which were scheduled to be implemented from Monday were suspended after the deal.


Trump confident over Mexico's promise

Trump on Saturday predicted Mexico would strongly enforce a new deal under which it agreed to expand a controversial asylum program and boost security on its southern border to stem Central American migrants trying to reach the United States.


How does Trump response compare with past administration?

Trump has said Congress needs to act to update immigration laws that have been on the books through many administrations.

Prior administrations sought to boost assistance to migrants' countries of origin and also constructed barriers along the border.

Former officials have said Trump could adopt measures used by past administrations, including constructing temporary tent housing and beefing up technology. Where past administrations bolstered Border Patrol, resources are now needed in immigration courts, healthcare for migrants, logistics and to improve communication and coordination among agencies.


What effect Trump administration policies had?

Shortly after Trump took office in 2017 after a campaign focused on curbing illegal immigration, border apprehensions dropped dramatically, but they ticked back up by the end of the year.

Since then, many of the Trump administration policies aimed at reducing illegal entrants have run into legal hurdles.

The administration's most divisive policy, "zero tolerance," was aimed at discouraging families by separating detained parents from their children. Worldwide condemnation forced the administration to quickly ditch the policy.

The administration has also tried to discourage migrants by making it more difficult to apply for asylum, but some measures have been blocked in the courts.

In January, the administration began a policy of sending some asylum seekers back to Mexico to wait out their US court hearings. While a judge found the policy likely violated immigration law, it remains in place while the administration appeals the ruling.

Trump declared a national emergency to redirect $6.7 billion from the military and the Treasury to extend a border wall, but a federal judge blocked the initial funds.