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A big caravan of Central American migrants that has stirred concerns in the U.S. and drawn tweets from President Donald Trump has been halted for days at a sports field in southern Mexico. (April 3) AP

Elvia Diaz: If Donald Trump pushes Mexico too far, the country could open its gates to those looking to reach the United States. And what then?

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No one honestly believes that hundreds of Central Americans being held at a Mexican stadium after stirring President Trump’s ire pose a real security threat to the United States.

Enemies don’t drive to the U.S.-Mexico border in a caravan, deliberately drawing international attention to themselves.

These people, many of them reportedly fleeing crime-ridden countries, may have just saved themselves from the wrath of corrupt Mexican law enforcement officers and bandits who often robbed, beat and kill Central American immigrants as they try to make their way to the United States.

But by drawing the spotlight to themselves, these folks are also forcing us to contemplate the vulnerabilities of both countries.

Welp, that escalated quickly

Consider how quickly things unfolded: Trump gets word of the caravan and takes to Twitter over the weekend demanding that Mexico stop it or else that country can kiss off the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Mexico halted the caravan, but instead of thanking his southern neighbor, Trump responded Tuesday with threats to militarize the U.S.-Mexico border. Suddenly, everyone is focused on securing the 2,000-mile border by any means necessary.  

Imagine if this played out on live TV

What would the United States have done if a caravan of about 1,000 Central Americans actually had reached the border asking asylum -– and it all played out on live TV?

That would be a godsend scenario for Trump and his supporters who want nothing more than to distract Americans from more consequential domestic and global problems, like the Russian investigation.

SERIES: The Wall, a comprehensive look at 2,000 miles of border

Trump knew exactly how the nation would react to his distaste for a bunch of poor and defenseless people fleeing their violence-ridden countries. Perhaps he would have sent them back to their certain deaths, giving the Republican Party ammunition during this year’s midterm Congressional election.

But the scenario shows something else. Mexico, too, holds powerful weapons to fight Trump’s whimsical disdain toward it. 

If Mexico opened its gates, what then?

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Mexico could open the gates to its southern border and let anyone who wants to head north reach the United States.

What then?

Mexico could do so quietly and methodically, while publicly denouncing any knowledge of such an operation.

Some already suspect Mexico did just that when hundreds of thousands of unaccompanied children flooded the border a few years ago. The U.S. still is dealing with the fate of some of those children.

Everyone understands that border security is necessary, but for Trump, it's either his wall or nothing.

The president may ultimately get his wall, but his ridiculous fixation with Mexico may push the country to take drastic and retaliatory measures on trade and migration.

What then?

Elvia Díaz is an editorial columnist for The Republic and azcentral. Reach her at 602-444-8606 or elvia.diaz@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter, @elviadiaz1.

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