Donald Trump has just permanently lifted the tariff on Mexican imports, and on Friday morning the press was packed with news that the president is prepared to impose high tariffs on Mexican imports.
The President said tariffs on Mexican products are “suspended indefinitely” after U.S. and Mexican negotiators were able to reach an immigration enforcement agreement.
“I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico,” Trump tweeted Friday. “The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the US on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended.”
The announcement was a drastic inversion of a sudden tariff threat that Trump himself announced last week in an effort to put more pressure on the Mexican government to prevent migrants flowing into the US.
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Trump spent much of the intervening period outside the nation, visiting European leaders and attending a United Kingdom State dinner, while US and Mexican negotiators worked hard in Washington to avoid another escalation in his foreign trade wars.
Trump has leaned on tariffs as a favorite bargaining mechanism, including in his ongoing dispute with China, with mixed results, and his Mexico threats drew open opposition from top Republican senators as well as blowback from the business community.
His decision to back off three days of intense discussions in Washington between Mexican officials and the Trump administration, with talks between Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo and State Department officials lasting for more than 11 hours Friday.
Trump threatened to impose tariffs on all Mexican products entering the US if Mexico did not restrict the amount of Central American migrants moving through the nation to the US. After returning to the White House from his trip to London for D-Day Commemoration, he said late Friday that Mexican authorities had agreed to his requirements.
“Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures to stop the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border,” Trump tweeted. “This is being done to greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States. Details of the agreement will be released shortly by the State Department. Thank you!”
Trump’s assertion was met with derision from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has crossed swords with the President repeatedly over immigration — particularly over Trump’s demands for money to build a border wall, which triggered a record long government shutdown last fall.
Late Friday, the New York Democrat tweeted: “This is an historic night! Donald Trump has announced that he has cut a deal to ‘greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States Now that that problem is solved, I’m sure we won’t be hearing any more about it in the future.”
The United States and Mexico signed onto a joint declaration as a result of the negotiations. The State Department said in a statement that as part of the agreement, Mexico will take “unprecedented steps” to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration, including the deployment of its National Guard throughout the country — giving priority to Mexico’s southern border.
The countries also agreed that individuals caught crossing into the US from Mexico seeking asylum will be “rapidly returned” to Mexico where they will await consideration of their asylum claims.
Mexico, the declaration says, will authorize the entrance of all of those individuals. Mexico says it will offer jobs, health care and education to those people. In return, the US must expedite the asylum adjudication process.
The declaration also reiterates the countries’ commitment from last year, which emphasizes US support for development in Central America and southern Mexico.
However, the agreement does not include requiring asylum seekers to first apply for asylum in the US while in Mexico. While the US got what it wanted from Mexico in terms of border enforcement and breaking up trafficking networks, the US did not get Mexico to agree to have asylum seekers from Central America face asylum proceedings in Mexico or the first country they cross through, rather than in the US.
Discussions will continue and the two countries may announce further efforts within the next 90 days if necessary, the statement said. The deal comes amid a surge in migrants crossing into the US, straining the resources of federal immigration and border authorities.
More than 144,000 migrants were encountered or arrested at the US-Mexico border. In May, US Customs against border Protection said this week, a roughly 32% increase from the previous month and the highest monthly total in more than a decade. Of those, nearly 133,000 crossed the US-Mexico border illegally, including more than 11,000 unaccompanied children.
Mexico has already pledged to send about 6,000 National Guard troops to its southern border with Guatemala in a bid to cut off the flow of Central American migrants whose journey to the US’s southern border has led to the steep spike in border crossings in recent months.
But US officials demanded more. US officials pressed Mexico to change its asylum policy by entering into a “safe third country” agreement with the US. Mexico had rejected those offers in the past, but US officials said Mexico was more open to some version of this idea in talks on Thursday.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday night praised his counterpart in the Mexican Foreign Ministry, thanking Marcelo Ebrard and his team for their hard work in negotiating a deal.
“We would like to thank Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard for his hard work to negotiate a set of joint obligations that benefit both the United States and Mexico,” Pompeo said in a statement. “The United States looks forward to working alongside Mexico to fulfill these commitments so that we can stem the tide of illegal migration across our southern border and to make our border strong and secure.”
Mexican Ambassador to the US Martha Barcena also commended Ebrard and said the agreement would move to tackle what she called the border’s intended humanitarian crisis.
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