President Donald Trump has vowed to impose a five percent tariff on all goods from Mexico – and claims he will only end it when ‘illegal migrants’ stop crossing the border into the U.S.
In a surprise announcement that could compromise a major trade deal, Trump tweeted news of the tariff on Thursday in a bid to pressure Mexico to do more to crack down in the surge of migrants trying to cross the U.S. border.
The tariffs will start at 5 percent on June 10 before jumping to 10 percent on July 1, 15 percent on August 1, 20 percent on September 1 and go up to 25 percent on October 1 unless Mexico takes steps to stop the surge.
‘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,’ he tweeted.
President Trump, pictured arriving at Andrews Air Force Base on Thursday evening, tweeted news of the 5 percent tariff on all Mexican imports on Thursday
‘The Tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied at which time the Tariffs will be removed.’
In a follow up statement from the White House, Trump said the tariff’s would permanently remain at 25 percent until ‘Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens’.
Trump’s move was a dramatic escalation of his battle to control a tide of illegal immigrants that has increased despite his efforts to build a border wall and take other steps.
U.S. officials said 80,000 people are being held in custody with an average of 4,500 arriving daily.
‘If the illegal migration crisis is alleviated through effective actions taken by Mexico, to be determined in our sole discretion and judgment, the tariffs will be removed,’ Trump said.
Mexico’s deputy foreign minister for North America, Jesus Seade, said on Thursday that it would be disastrous if Trump goes through with his threat to impose the tariffs.
‘It would be extremely serious… If this is put in place, we must respond vigorously,’ Seade said.
Trump’s announcement came a day after border agents in El Paso, Texas detained the largest single group of migrants they had ever encountered – 1,036 people. They are pictured above after being detained
The group of 1,036 people crossed the Rio Grande River from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico in the early morning hours of Wednesday
Trump said he was acting under the powers granted to him by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
He campaigned for election in 2016 on a vow to crack down on illegal immigration and has been frustrated that the flow has increased in recent months.
‘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 the statement.
‘Mexico has very strong immigration laws and could easily halt the illegal flow of migrants, including by returning them to their home countries,’ he said.
White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, asked in a conference call with reporters which products from Mexico could be affected by the tariffs, said: ‘All of them.’
Trump has accused the Mexican government of failing to do enough to halt the flow of Central American migrants who have been flowing to the U.S in search of asylum from countries including El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
He has been itching to take increasingly radical, headline-grabbing action on the issue, which he sees as critical to his reelection campaign because it energizes his base.
A US Customs and Border Protection CCTV video image shows the undocumented migrants crossing the Rio Grande River into El Paso, Texas on Wednesday
But the sudden tariff threat comes at a peculiar time, given how hard the administration has been pushing for passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement that would update the North American Free Trade Agreement.
It also comes less than two weeks after Trump lifted import taxes on Mexican and Canadian steel and aluminum, a move that seemed to clear an obstacle to passage of his North American trade deal.
The White House sees the deal, which was agreed to by the three nations’ leaders in November, as the cornerstone of Trump’s 2020 legislative agenda but it needs approval from lawmakers in all three countries for it to be ratified.
Trump’s announcement came a day after border agents in El Paso, Texas detained the largest single group of migrants they had ever encountered – 1,036 people.
The group crossed the Rio Grande River from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico in the early morning hours of Wednesday, illustrating the mounting problem that Trump’s administration has been unable to get under control.
The El Paso group comprised of entire families, 39 single adults and 63 unaccompanied minors, all from Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador, according to US Customs and Border Protection.