To be perfectly frank, I had no idea how to start this border roundup today. I still don’t. The times are truly unprecedented, and the full scope of the U.S. government’s actions are still unknown.
Here are some of the things we do know:
The tension continues over the proposed border wall (the one that doesn’t yet exist, as opposed to the one that already does) and who, if anybody, is expected to foot the bill. In a high-profile change of plans, Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, canceled a meeting with Presdeint Donald Trump that was originally set for this Tuesday.
Naturally, the bickering took place over Twitter:
The U.S. has a 60 billion dollar trade deficit with Mexico. It has been a one-sided deal from the beginning of NAFTA with massive numbers…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2017
of jobs and companies lost. If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2017
Esta mañana hemos informado a la Casa Blanca que no asistiré a la reunión de trabajo programada para el próximo martes con el @POTUS.
— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) January 26, 2017
Peña Nieto said that he canceled the meeting. Trump said that the cancellation was mutual.
The incident has thrown a major wrench into trade relations between the United States and Mexico — its third biggest trading partner after Canada and China. The Mexican peso took a strong hit as a result, dropping to its lowest value (around 21 pesos to the dollar, compared with 12 pesos to the dollar about a year ago) in years. The peso was rallying slightly as of Monday.
• Meanwhile, as airports all over the world were thrown into utter confusion by the scope of Trump’s executive orders, multiple reports surfaced Customs and Border Protection were not complying with a court-ordered stay on an executive order banning specific refugees, asylum-seekers and immigrants — and revoking green cards.
The Department of Homeland Security issued a confusing and contradictory statement on the matter saying it plans to fully comply: “We are and will remain in compliance with judicial orders. We are and will continue to enforce President Trump’s executive order humanely and with professionalism. DHS will continue to protect the homeland.”
Border officials in some cases also refused to allow elected officials to meet with people who were detained at Dulles and other international airports, setting a troubling standard for authorities along the border dividing the United States from Mexico.
Protesters also swarmed the San Diego International Airport two days in a row. Rep. Susan Davis, who represents San Diego, has written a letter to the acting head of Border Patrol, asking for clarity on whether anyone has been detailed at the San Diego Airport, and requesting that any detainees be granted access to legal counsel.
• Refugees and deported people in Tijuana and elsewhere along the border watched and waited, their hopes waning, as the new relationship between the two countries took shape and the Trump set the construction of a border wall into motion.
• Another Trump executive order last week said the federal government will seek to punish so-called sanctuary cities. VOSD’s Sara Libby explored what makes a place a sanctuary city, and how the order will impact San Diego.
• It’s not all U.S. actions that are throwing the border into chaos and uncertainty, however. Protests against gasoline deregulation, government corruption, attempts at privatizing water and other domestic concerns have continued within Mexico. The raucous but peaceful protests have successfully diverted traffic from San Ysidro’s El Chaparral point of entry several times, and show no signs of stopping.
Large protests in Tijuana have also spread to outside the Palacio Municipal — the seat of Baja California’s state government — where some demonstrators have been reportedly badly beaten by Mexican state police. On Saturday, Baja California’s governor, Francisco “Kiko” Vega de LaMadrid, was confronted by an angry group of protesters in Mexicali shouting, “Fuera Kiko,” or “Out, Kiko!” The group of officials was forced to push through the mob and flee. Protesters in Mexicali, the capital of Baja California state, continue to block access to government buildings there.
It is a sign of the times that this news is not at the top of a border roundup. At any other time in history, this would be by far one of the biggest stories I have reported on the border.
• Finally, after all of this, the New York Times finally discovered the Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles.