The U.S.-Mexico Relationship Has Survived and Thrived Under Trump

President Donald Trump has incurred criticism for what many have charged is his systematic undermining of the U.S. relationship with Mexico, one of the most important the United States has with any country. During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and through his first year in office, Trump repeatedly singled out Mexico for taking unfair advantage of the United States under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and failing to adequately police its side of the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent drugs and criminals from entering the United States and pledged that Mexico will pay for the construction of his proposed border wall.

More recently, tentative plans for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to make his first trip to Washington to meet with Trump were canceled following what the Washington Post referred to as a “testy” telephone conversation between the two, in which Trump refused Peña Nieto’s request to recognize that Mexico will not pay for the construction of the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

There is no doubt that bilateral relations have been a roller coaster. The irony, however, is that even as gloom and doom dominates the headlines, the bilateral relationship has not only endured but thrived. Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray best captured that sentiment last month when he said the relationship was “closer than it was with previous administrations.… That’s a fact of life.”

Equally, during his recent trip to California to examine prototypes of the border wall, Trump had kind words for Peña Nieto, saying that they had a “great relationship” and that he was a very good negotiator on behalf of the Mexican people. Trump added, “Cooperation with Mexico is another crucial element of border security.… We must absolutely build on that cooperation.”

Nor is there any denying the unprecedented senior-level interaction between the Trump and Peña Nieto administrations over the past year. Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, was just in Mexico City, the latest in a long line of top U.S. officials, including cabinet secretaries, who have engaged with their Mexico counterparts. Similarly, Videgaray has made numerous trips to Washington to confer at the highest levels. These meetings have resulted in deepening bilateral cooperation across the board, including:

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