As the White House contends with a growing crisis on the southern border, it has heaped blame on the previous administration because, as Press Secretary Jen Psaki put it during the daily press briefing on March 10, “they intentionally made it worse.”
But in a wide-ranging conversation with National Review on Thursday, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo argued that it is in fact the Biden administration, by unraveling the Trump team’s policies, that caused the current crisis. “It is patently obvious,” he said, defending the “enormous diplomatic achievement” that he played a role in crafting.
Pompeo has previously criticized the Biden administration’s border policy, including in recent appearances on Fox News. In a conversation with NR today, he elaborated on the diplomatic outreach that figured into the Trump administration’s work on border issues.
During that press briefing earlier this month, Psaki announced an end to the Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), a complex set of agreements with Mexico and Central American countries, where individuals seeking asylum in the United States would be kept in Mexico or other countries as their claims were processed. According to Pompeo, ending these arrangements was a mistake.
“This policy, or what has been come to be known as Remain in Mexico, was really good work by me and my team to make the case to the Mexican government that the right thing for them — these are often El Salvadorians, Guatemalans, Hondurans, who are transiting their country — that this is deeply inhumane, and that we’re not going to permit them to stay in the United States while the asylum claim was processed,” he told NR.
Implementing the MPP, he continued, “with the cooperation of the Mexican government was to turn off the magnet,” and therefore to convince individuals without valid asylum claims not to make the trip to the U.S. border.
The Biden administration has argued that the Remain in Mexico policy was inhumane, as it made asylum seekers potentially wait years for their claims to be processed, and that it created unsafe environments in towns on the Mexican side of the southern U.S. border.
But former Trump administration officials have asserted that MPP deterred people from undertaking perilous journeys to the southern border in the first place. “The family-unit crisis was solved, I think, almost by the use of MPP,” a senior DOJ official told National Review’s Rich Lowry in an extensive report on the Trump administration’s border policy.
The former secretary of state, who is now a distinguished fellow at the Hudson Institute, elaborated on the State Department’s diplomatic outreach to strike these deals. “We worked with the Guatemalans, the Hondurans, the El Salvadorians to deliver a set of outcomes that work for each of our countries and prevented what you see happening at the border today,” he said.
The border policies implemented by the previous administration, which were “so intricately laid down . . . along with our partners and these other four countries, have now been undone,” Pompeo added. “And you see the tragedies taking place, you see the horrors that are being inflicted upon these people who are in very, very difficult situations.”