WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump said Sunday that "America has had enough with Mexico," contending that it is an "abuser" of the United States by not stopping the surge of Central American migrants headed north to seek asylum in the U.S.
Trump, who is threatening to impose a 5 percent tariff on Mexican exports sent to the U.S. unless it blocks the migrants short of the U.S. border, accused Mexico of "taking but never giving. It has been this way for decades."
On Twitter, Trump said, "Either they stop the invasion of our Country by Drug Dealers, Cartels, Human Traffickers, Coyotes and Illegal Immigrants, which they can do very easily, or our many companies and jobs that have been foolishly allowed to move South of the Border, will be brought back into the United States through taxation (Tariffs)."
Trump's attacks on Mexico came a day after Mexican President Andres Manual Lopez Obrador suggested his country could clamp down on migration. He said he thinks the United States is ready to discuss its threat to impose the tariff, effective June 10, as a means to combat illegal migration from Central America.
"There is willingness on the part of U.S. government officials to establish dialogue and reach agreement and compromises," the Mexican leader said.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said he had spoken to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by phone and said face-to-face talks between the two would take place on Wednesday in Washington.
“We will be firm and defend the dignity of Mexico," Ebrard said.
Lopez Obrador called for "dialogue" rather than "coercive measures" and said he expects "good results" from the Washington talks.
Trump set off the dispute last week, posting a policy statement on Twitter.
"On June 10, 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 October 1.
U.S. border agents have apprehended an increasing number of people, largely from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, who crossed the southern U.S. border in recent months, many of them hoping to win asylum to stay in the U.S.
In contrast to previous spikes in arrivals, recent groups have included a large number of children, prompting U.S. officials to scramble to support families and children traveling without parents.
The tariff dispute is occurring as Trump is seeking congressional approval for a new U.S.-Canada-Mexico trade deal. Some Washington analysts have suggested that if Trump imposes the tariff on imports from Mexico, it would imperil passage of the trade pact, but acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney dismissed such concerns, saying the two issues are not connected.
"This is an immigration matter, not a trade issue," Mulvaney told Fox News Sunday.
He said Trump threatened to impose the tariff "to put pressure on Mexico. Congress will not help us fix the border, so we turned to Mexico."