EDITORIAL: Trump’s fraudulent Mexican tariff hustle warrants national reproof

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Set aside the fact that President Donald Trump on Friday fraudulently paraded his extortion victory over Mexico.

Even on its surface, Trump has now revealed a “new” policy that not only won’t improve this nation’s immigration woes, it will make them worse.

Trump congratulated himself for successfully using threatened tariffs against Mexico to get them to capitulate to “new” demands he thinks will help stem a rush of Central American refugees attempting to get into the United States.

“In the face of naysayers, President Trump yet again delivered a huge victory for the American people,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement to the Associated Press, applauding the president for using “every tool in his toolbox to protect the American people.”

It was outright fraud.

The New York Times reported Saturday that former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen had earlier this year already negotiated Mexican military enhancement at Mexico’s southern border.

The agreement for Mexico to allow U.S. asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their immigration cases were heard was actually hammered out last December, the Times reported, citing Mexican and U.S sources.

Last week, Trump wanted Mexico to force these immigrants to apply for asylum in Mexico. Mexico said no.

In routine Trump White House style, the administration purposely sought to mislead Congress and the public on what actually had happened. Trump manufactures a crisis and then fabricates a solution. It’s beguiling political kabuki for his base. It’s a nightmare for the rest of the world.

Even if Trump and his staff hadn’t lied about tariff negotiations with Mexico, the stunt emphasized a predictable inability to create successful foreign policy.

According to Trump, the problem is a flood of people attempting to seek refugee status in the United States.

Currently, most of these immigrants are from Central American countries other than Mexico. Trump believes that Mexico isn’t trying hard enough to keep people from Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala from traversing Mexico to seek asylum at the U.S. border.

Mexican officials have made clear they will not act inhumanely nor violate immigrant human rights in the matter.

Critically, the Trump Administration dismisses that many of these people are, indeed, refugees from failed nations. They are fleeing for their lives and deserving consideration for refugee status.

Just as important, Trump’s attempt to force Mexico to act as de facto U.S. immigration police overlooks the real problem: failed nations virtually within walking distance of the United States.

Trump has already worked to worsen problems in those nations earlier this year when he undermined their U.S. economic support.

If there were a certain place for increased U.S., United Nations and Mexican intervention, it would be to help create lawfulness in those chaotic Central American countries. The level of corruption and insecurity is what’s driving thousands of people and families to risk their lives to escape rogue communities at home.

By focusing on the problem only when it ends up on the U.S. border illustrates Trump’s acute lack of insight and judgment in being able to handle complex world problems, of which there are many.

Finally, trying to force Mexico to act on immigration problems by threatening that nation’s economic lifeline is nothing short of blackmail. Economic trade pacts have nothing to do with Mexican border issues. Not only was the stunt corrupt, it was self-destructive and ineffective at solving the problem.

“Naysayers,” cited by Trump Administration officials, this time included fellow Republicans, loath to publicly criticize the president and anger his base. Even GOP Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, increasingly reluctant to speak ill of Trump or his policies, offered that the tariffs would endanger the U.S. economy.

Emboldened by his own fraud and self-commendation, Trump will almost certainly wield this high-stakes deception again.

While Trump demonstrates almost daily how he is unqualified to hold the office of U.S. president, the Mexican tariff debacle and his perpetrated racket deserve fierce condemnation by Congress and voters.