President Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on imports from Mexico bore fruit Thursday with Mexico’s halting of 1,000 migrants from Central America, and now a deal is in the works between the two neighbors that would dramatically increase Mexico’s immigration enforcement efforts.
U.S. and Mexican officials negotiating in Washington this week have formed the outlines of an agreement that would also give the United States far more latitude to deport Central Americans seeking asylum, the Washington Post reported, citing a U.S. official and a Mexican official who cautioned that the accord is not final and that President Trump might not accept it.
Facing a 5 percent tariff on goods exported to the U.S. beginning Monday, Mexican officials have pledged to deploy up to 6,000 national guard troops near the country’s border with Guatemala.
The two officials said the plan also would require Central American migrants to seek refuge in the first country they enter after leaving their homeland.
Trump wrote on Twitter on May 30: “On June 10th, the United States will impose a 5% Tariff on all goods coming into our Country from Mexico, until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP.”
The tariffs will increase 5 percentage points a month, until they reach 25 percent, he has warned.
On Wednesday, a special unit of 200 Mexican military police, immigration agents and federal officers intercepted a caravan of 1,000 Central American migrants.
The migrants, who were walking north along a highway in southern Mexico, told officers they planned to travel to the U.S. and claim asylum, the Washington Examiner reported
U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday that more illegal immigrants were apprehended crossing the southern border in May than in any calendar month since 2006.
The surge in arrests was the “worst case scenario,” according to a top immigration analyst who now believes more than 1 million illegal immigrants will enter the United States this year, reported the Washington Examiner.
CBP reported 144,000 apprehensions of illegal aliens in May. For the year, the figure is 676,315, a rise of 99 percent over this time last year.
Trump’s tariff initiative followed his retreat in April from a threat to shut down the southern border to address the problem of illegal immigrants and illicit drugs.
Instead, he gave Mexico a “one-year warning” and said he would consider imposing auto tariffs on America’s southern neighbor.
The president’s top immigration officials have warned that the immigration system has reached a breaking point. With processing and holding centers overwhelmed, the United States has expanded its practice of “catch and release” of illegal immigrant families.
Over the past year, as Trump has lobbied for funds to expand the border wall, top Democratic leaders have insisted there is no crisis at the border.
In April, however, former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson told MSNBC that “100,000 migrants in a month is a crisis.”
“It’s a crisis in Central America. It’s a crisis for our border security personnel to try to deal with that. And it’s a crisis for the communities along the border that have to somehow absorb this population. … Now, the question becomes what to do about it. There are no quick fixes.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared at her weekly news conference May 17 that she and other Democrats had never said there was not a crisis at the border.
However, both she and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in their live televised response to Trump’s address on border security in January that the president had “manufactured a crisis.”
“Fox & Friends” presented a montage of Democrats such as California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and Sens. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Kamala Harris of California using the same language. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a 2020 presidential candidate, referred to it as a “so-called crisis.”
On Thursday, Trump — who was in France to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion — once again warned Mexico that it needs to “step up to the plate” to stem the flow of migrants to the U.S. border or face tariffs.
“Mexico has been making, for many, many years, hundreds of mill- — of billions of dollars,” Trump said. “They’ve been making an absolute fortune on the United States. They have to step up, and they have to step up to the plate, and perhaps they will. We’re going to see. They can solve the problem.”
The president also blames Democrats in Congress for failing to secure the border.
“The Democrats — Congress has been a disaster. They won’t change. They won’t do anything. They want free immigration — immigration to pour into our country. They don’t care who it is. They don’t care what kind of a record they have. It doesn’t make any difference. They’re not going to be changing anything. We go to them, we say, ‘Let’s fix the immigration laws.’ They just want it to do badly. The worse it does, the happier they are.
“So that’s the way it is, and, I guess, that’s the way it’ll be until after the election. It’s a disgrace. Because, frankly, we could solve this problem so easy if the Democrats in Congress were willing to make some changes, but they’re not. And that’s the way it is. They want to just ride it out. They want to have a real bad time. They don’t care about crime. They don’t care about drugs pouring into our country. They couldn’t care less. It’s all politics. It’s a vicious business. So that’s the way it is,” Trump said.
The president also said tariffs will be an effective incentive for Mexico to take action.”When you have the money, when you have the product, when you have the thing that everybody wants, you’re in a position to do very well with tariffs, and that’s where we are. We’re the piggybank. The United States is the piggybank. It has all the money that others want to take from us, but they’re not taking it so easy anymore. It’s a lot different,” Trump said.
Talks between U.S. and Mexican officials continue in Washington, but Trump warned that “Something pretty dramatic could happen with Mexico, the tariffs go on — and I mean it, too. And I’m very happy with it. I think a lot of progress was made yesterday, but we have to make a lot of progress.”