Morning Brief

U.S.-Mexico Migration Deal Expires

Plus: China’s growing diplomatic influence, Britain’s parliamentary chaos, and the other stories we’re following today.

A portion of the wall on the US-Mexico border is seen from Chihuahua State in Mexico on August 28.
A portion of the wall on the US-Mexico border is seen from Chihuahua State in Mexico on August 28. HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Zimbabwe’s former President Robert Mugabe, an independence leader who became an authoritarian ruler, died at 95, the U.S.-Mexico migration deal expires today, U.S. State Department officials are alarmed at China’s growing diplomatic influence, and the Brexit parliamentary chaos continues.

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What’s Next for Mexico’s Migration Policy?

Today marks the expiration date for the 90-day deal between the United States and Mexico, which agreed to reduce migration flows across the border to avoid U.S. tariffs on its goods. Mexico is expected to provide an update on the status of the agreement today ahead of a key meeting between U.S. and Mexican officials next Tuesday.

As part of the deal, Mexico expanded its National Guard’s reach at its own southern border as the United States dramatically increased the “Remain in Mexico” program forcing asylum seekers to await their cases in Mexico. The policy appears to be effective: In August, the number of people crossing the border declined, with the U.S. Border Patrol arresting 51,000 migrants—a 30 percent decrease.

Remain in Mexico? Thousands of asylum seekers who have returned to Mexico under the U.S. program, as well as those who have given up on crossing the border, have also been transported back to Central America by the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration with funding from the U.S. State Department. Immigration lawyers are concerned the migrants who do so aren’t fully aware of their rights, the Los Angeles Times reports.

What’s next? The Mexican and U.S. officials will meet in Washington on Tuesday. Mexico maintains that it has met U.S. demands and continues to resist pressure from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump that it become a “safe third country,” which would force asylum seekers to settle there.

What We’re Following Today

U.S. alarmed about China’s growing diplomatic influence. As world leaders gear up for the U.N. General Assembly later this month, State Department officials have voiced concern that the United States is losing influence in international organizations—and that China has stepped in to fill the vacuum, Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer report. Officials note that the lax U.S. response to China’s growing influence doesn’t track with the Trump administration’s other policies to contain China’s rising power, they report.

Meanwhile, on Thursday stocks rose sharply on the news that the United States and China had agreed to high-level trade talks to be held in Washington early next month as their trade dispute continues to damage global investment.

Brexit election chaos continues. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will again seek a snap general election on Monday—once the no-deal bill passed by Parliament on Wednesday is expected to become law. (A motion to hold a new election would still require a two-thirds majority.) The news was overshadowed by the resignation of Johnson’s own brother, Jo Johnson—also a Conservative party lawmaker—over the prime minister’s Brexit policy.

Boris Johnson will visit Dublin on Monday to discuss proposals for the Irish border with Prime Minister Leo Varadkar for the first time since becoming British prime minister.

Russians vote in local elections. Voters in Moscow will elect a new city council on Sunday, though most of the main opposition candidates remain struck from the ballot. Their exclusion provoked protests that rocked the city this summer. (This week three protesters received prison sentences in what critics see as an intimidation tactic.) Sunday’s elections will be held in 18 regions and 26 cities and serve as a test for President Vladimir Putin’s party to stage manage the vote as it grapples with declining popularity, Amy Mackinnon and Reid Standish report.

Humanitarian crisis as Bahamas in need of urgent aid. Days after the Bahamas was devastated by Hurricane Dorian, the World Food Programme has said that more than 75,000 people are likely in need of food and urgent aid. An international relief effort is already underway, with the U.S. Agency for International Development announcing a large relief flight on Thursday. The storm destroyed thousands of homes and killed at least 23 people, though officials fear the death toll will rise.

For news and analysis on the world’s most populous and fastest-growing regions, sign up for FP’s new weekly newsletters: South Asia Brief, delivered on Tuesdays, and China Brief, delivered on Wednesdays.

Keep an Eye On 

Another weekend of unrest in Hong Kong. After Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the withdrawal of Hong Kong’s extradition bill this week, activists have continued to call for all of their demands to be met and will hold further protests this weekend, including another airport “stress test” on Saturday. A leaderless movement and distant authority makes a direct resolution to the crisis unlikely, Ryan Manuel argues in FP.

The Solomon Islands’ ties to Taiwan. Lawmakers in the Solomon Islands are considering cutting off diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of formal ties with China, which has increased its influence in the South Pacific—once a diplomatic bulwark for Taiwan. The move, if approved, would leave only 16 countries that officially recognize self-ruled Taiwan’s government.

Rallies in Yemen. Thousands of people took to the streets on Thursday in the port of Aden to show support for the United Arab Emirates, which backs the separatists that seized control of the city from Yemen’s Saudi coalition-backed government. The demonstration took place as Saudi Arabia hosts indirect talks between the separatists and the government.

Australia’s opioid crisis. Lawmakers in Australia have been slow to address the country’s growing opioid crisis, which has caused a rise in deaths sharper than that in the United States, the Associated Press reports. The epidemic has killed 400,000 Americans, and doctors and researchers warn that the government is still falling short.

An EU army? As the United States retreats under the Trump administration, European NATO countries have begun considering the idea of defending themselves. A European army could emerge for the first time—something that appeals to some defense circles, particularly in France, Azeem Ibrahim writes for FP.

Odds and Ends

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold smartphone goes on sale today in South Korea after months of delays due to problems with the folding screen. The phone costs nearly $2,000 and opens to the size of a small tablet. The Chinese firm Huawei also plans to launch a folding smartphone.

A court in France has ruled in favor of a rooster’s owner after neighbors on the island of Oléron filed a noise complaint over the bird’s crowing. The legal battle had gained the rooster, Maurice, a legion of global supporters. His owner will receive 1,000 euros in damages.

Foreign Policy Recommends

The outgoing Financial Times Brussels bureau chief, Alex Barker, writes a tremendous essay looking back on nearly a decade of covering the European Union and how the city transformed from a sleepy hub for EU technocrats to the epicenter of some of Europe’s most dramatic crises—from the refugee crisis to Brexit. “Here is the spot where the raw tangled threads of a continent’s politics converge,” Barker writes. “It is where Europe’s hardest problems come to be compressed and crushed until the pressure is so high, in the words of one summit veteran, ‘the politics turns fluid’—or breaks into the most vivid dramas.” Robbie Gramer, staff writer

Tune In

Later today on FP’s podcast, First Person: A month ago, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution, stripping Indian-administered Kashmir of its semi-autonomous rule. Sarah Wildman interviews Indian broadcast journalist Barkha Dutt about the fallout from the decision and the subsequent lockdown in Kashmir.

That’s it for today.

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Audrey Wilson is an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @audreybwilson

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