The United States is giving Mexico 10 days to stop illegal migrants from heading north to the U.S. border, or the country will be slapped with tariffs on all of its products.
The announcement was made in a tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump Thursday evening.
“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,” Trump tweeted. Until “the illegal immigration problem is remedied” tariffs will continue to rise monthly, going as high as 25% by Oct. 1.
“Mexico’s passive cooperation in allowing this mass incursion constitutes an emergency and extraordinary threat to the national security and economy of the United States,” Trump said in a subsequent statement. “Mexico has very strong immigration laws and could easily halt the illegal flow of migrants, including by returning them to their home countries.”
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador responded with a tweet of his own. In a letter he posted on Twitter he said “social problems are not resolved with taxes or coercive measures.”
Trump’s announcement of the new tariffs came on the same day Mexico began the formal process to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade.
Lopez Obrador said he was sending his foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard to Washington to try to negotiate a solution.
Mexico’s deputy foreign minister for North America, Jesus Seade, says such tariffs would be disastrous.
“If this threat is carried out, it would be extremely serious,” he told reporters. “If this is put in place, we must respond vigorously.”
Some Republican members of Congress but no Democrats were consulted about the plan, according to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
Asked in a hastily arranged conference call with reporters about benchmarks Mexico would need to achieve to have the tariffs lifted, Mulvaney said there needs to be significant and substantial reductions in illegal migrants from Central America crossing into the United States.
“We’re going to take this and look at it on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis,” Mulvaney said. “We are interested in seeing the Mexican government act tonight, tomorrow.”
The acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, told reporters on the call there is “an organized smuggling effort” involving commercial bus lines controlled by criminal organizations “to move 100,000 people to our country every four weeks.”
Trump has repeatedly accused Mexico of not doing enough to stop Central American migrants from traveling through the country on their way to the United States.