Where Mexico Stands on Migration
Plus: Iran pressures Europe, the EU Parliament votes on leadership, and other stories we’re following today.
Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Mexico touts its migration policies, Europe faces pressure from Iran over the nuclear deal, and the European Parliament votes on the bloc’s top jobs.
Beginning tomorrow, all FP newsletters will take a break for the U.S. holiday weekend. We will be back on Monday, July 8. As always, we welcome your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mexico Touts Migration Enforcement
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Tuesday defended the success of his government’s intensified migration policies, as criticism over conditions in migrant detention centers mounts on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Mexico agreed to ramp up enforcement efforts last month to avoid U.S. tariffs, including deploying the National Guard. The number of migrants crossing Mexico’s southern border has since dropped sharply.
Some of the changes are marked. Dozens of U.S. asylum seekers who were returned to the border city of Ciudad Juarez under the “remain in Mexico” policy—expanded under the U.S. deal—opted to be bused back to countries in Central America on Tuesday, a first for the program. Mexican authorities say they will soon transport other asylum seekers from Tijuana and Mexicali.
Mounting criticism. Criticism is growing over extreme overcrowding in detention centers in Mexico and the United States. Last month alone, Mexico detained 29,153 people. Mexican detention centers are operating at five times capacity, and authorities admit that centers and shelters are “well below standards.” Conditions at U.S. facilities have the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s watchdog concerned.
South of the border. Responses to the ongoing crisis have been mixed in Central America. Guatemalan authorities have expressed anger over the conditions in Mexican facilities. On Monday, El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele took responsibility for the thousands of Salvadoran migrants. “They fled El Salvador, they fled our country,” he said. “It is our fault.”
What’s next? U.S. officials are set to review Mexico’s migration enforcement at the end of the month. Perhaps as a preview, U.S. President Donald Trump praised Mexico’s efforts at the G-20 summit over the weekend.
But Central American officials are worried that conditions in detention centers could deteriorate further. And while Mexico’s National Guard—deployed along its borders—does not have orders to detain migrants, some rights groups have concerns about the potential for abuse.
What We’re Following Today
Europe feels the pressure from Iran. Iran’s partial breach of the 2015 nuclear deal has the agreement’s European signatories “extremely concerned,” though they are hesitant to bring the matter to the United Nations—where it could prompt the return of international sanctions. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has defended the move as Iran’s assertion of its right to respond to the U.S. abandonment of the deal.
Iran’s breach of the deal’s uranium stockpile limits is a calculated effort to get leaders to push for U.S. sanctions relief, Gérard Araud and Ali Vaez argue in FP. “Europe’s reaction should be equally calibrated,” they write. “It should double down on its support for the deal while warning Iran that there is a limit to its patience both on nuclear breaches and destabilizing the region.”
European Parliament to approve top jobs. After two days of deadlock, EU leaders reached an agreement on the bloc’s top jobs on Tuesday, choosing two women for key positions: the French International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde to head the European Central Bank and German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen as Commission president. The European Parliament must now approve the appointments. Today the assembly elects its own president, with the Italian socialist David Sassoli a likely candidate.
China responds to Hong Kong protesters. China condemned the protesters who stormed Hong Kong’s Legislative Council after a pro-democracy march on Monday as extremists who “trample[d] on the rule of law,” hinting at possible Chinese intervention. The tactics of the police, who withdrew as the demonstrators charged the building, have drawn some criticism and could renew questions about Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s political future.
Keep an Eye On
Germany’s far-right extremists. On Tuesday, the suspect in the murder of the German politician Walter Lübcke retracted his confession on the advice of his lawyer. If the court finds that the killing was politically motivated, it will be the first murder of a politician by the far-right since World War II. The German government has long been blind to right-wing terrorism, Peter Kuras writes for FP.
Surveillance of tourists in Xinjiang. Chinese border police have begun covertly installing an app to download personal data from the mobile phones of tourists and visitors who cross into the Xinjiang region from neighboring Kyrgyzstan. The malware is the first evidence that the Chinese surveillance of minority Muslims in Xinjiang extends to those living outside China.
Muslims boycotting Mecca. Some of Saudi Arabia’s allies have begun to reconsider their support for the kingdom amid the government’s human rights abuses. A few Muslim clerics have called for a boycott in August of the hajj—the pilgrimage to Mecca, which usually draws 2.3 million people. A hajj boycott could harm Saudi Arabia’s regional standing, Ahmed Twaij argues for FP.
Duterte’s children. Phillipine President Rodrigo Duterte’s son, who won a seat in Congress in May, is considering competing for the speakership of its lower house. Duterte’s daughter, Sara, succeeded him as the mayor of Davao City and her political star is rising. (Another son is her vice mayor.) Duterte has yet to endorse a candidate for speaker.
A resurgent Islamic State? As the United States draws down in Syria and replacement forces have not yet been committed, experts are concerned that it could provide the opportunity for the Islamic State to return. The first step to getting support is brokering an agreement between Turkey and the Syrian Democratic Forces, Lara Seligman reports.
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Mumbai authorities called a holiday on Tuesday after the city experienced its heaviest rainfall in a decade, causing flash floods and killing 18 people. Meanwhile, Chennai, in India’s southeast, is still suffering from a severe water shortage.
The huge beef industry in Brazil is contributing significantly to deforestation in the country’s Amazon. Cattle farms in the region have violated environmental embargoes by cutting down trees to allowing space for cows to graze, a joint investigation by the Guardian, Repórter Brasil, and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found.
A group of environmental activists in Jakarta is suing the Indonesian government over the capital’s extreme smog. The city, already ranked the most polluted in Southeast Asia, has recently recorded worse air-quality readings than both Delhi and Beijing.
Flooding has devastated communities southeastern Siberia, with 18 people dead and 13 missing. Residents say that Russian authorities didn’t give them adequate warning.
Odds and Ends
Last year, Austria’s right-wing coalition government threw out a proposed ban on smoking in bars and restaurants. (It was one of nonsmoker Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s compromises with the far right.) Now that the coalition has collapsed, the Austrian parliament has passed the ban, angering some business owners.
The tariffs that the United States has threatened to slap on E.U. imports as part of the dispute between Boeing and Airbus could also affect Mediterranean olives, Parmesan and Gouda cheeses—and Scotch whisky, the BBC reports. The United States is currently the largest market for Scotch exports, by value.
That’s it for today.