Mexican officials this week said they will bestow its highest honor for foreigners on Jared Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and his senior adviser. The Mexican Foreign Relations Department said Kushner earned the award “for his significant contributions in achieving the renegotiation of the new [trade] agreement between Mexico, the United States and Canada.”
Leaders of the three nations are expected to sign the United States–Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) at the G-20 summit this weekend in Argentina. The deal replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement, the much-maligned, 1990s deal that Trump promised to dismantle. Kushner will be on hand for the signing.
The decision to give Kushner the Order of the Aztec Eagle has met resistance in Mexico, where many see the Trump family as an enemy because of the president’s hardline stance on immigration.
Sealing USMCA represents an important step toward improved relations with Mexico on the eve of a new administration coming to power there. President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador takes office Saturday. Vice President Mike Pence and Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and Kushner’s wife, will attend his inauguration.
López Obrador has signaled a willingness to work with the Trump administration by housing caravan migrants waiting in Tijuana to apply for asylum in the United States. But he’s also made it clear he expects something in return: investment in development in southern Mexico and Central America, from where many of the migrants originated. With Kushner’s help, Trump could build diplomatic bridges to Mexico while also constructing a border wall—if López Obrador can sell the idea to his constituents. And that’s a big if, considering the attitudes of some in Mexico toward Trump.
“Kushner is the son-in-law of the man who called Mexicans ‘killers and rapists,’” tweeted Enrique Krauze, a prominent Mexican intellectual. He was referring to remarks Trump made during his presidential campaign about criminal immigrants coming into the United States—remarks that sparked anger toward him in Mexico that lasted into his presidency.
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, wrote that “if Mexico agrees to do the U.S. government’s dirty work at the expense of the caravan members’ dignity and human rights, it is effectively paying for Trump’s shameful border wall.” —Lynde Langdon