MEXICO CITY — Every airplane passenger who arrives in Mexico is vetted against U.S. criminal and national security databases, a daily dose of intelligence sharing aimed at finding fugitives and suspected terrorists.
In the Mexico City airport, plainclothes U.S. border officers work alongside their Mexican counterparts to investigate suspicious travelers bound for the United States. In Brownsville, Tex., U.S. customs agents remotely watch X-ray scans of train cargo from the Mexican side of the border.
For much of their history, the United States and Mexico had a wary relationship and security cooperation was limited. It wasn’t until 1996 that Mexico began extraditing its citizens accused of crimes to the United States. But over the past two decades, as their economies have become more interdependent, the countries have developed an extraordinary level of collaboration in addressing terrorist threats and capturing dangerous criminals.
Today, that partnership is at risk. The Trump administration has threatened to ramp up deportations of illegal immigrants, scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and make Mexico pay for a border wall. The Mexican economy minister, Ildefonso Guajardo, told a Canadian newspaper last month that if relations deteriorate, “the incentives for the Mexican people to keep on cooperating” on security issues “will be diminished.”
“Many different agencies and many different players are now in a holding position,” said a senior Mexican official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid. “That is not good.” …