On the evening of May 30, President Trump announced through Twitter his administration’s plan to impose tariffs on Mexican imports unless and until the Mexican government helps to solve what the administration has called a “crisis of immigration” along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump tweeted, “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 gradually increase until the illegal immigration problem is remedied.”
World markets were immediately affected by Trump’s announcement, ending a month of volatility for U.S. stocks overall, but precipitating a sell-off affecting auto manufacturers who depend heavily on parts manufactured in Mexico. Economists and market watchers warn of continued volatility in the markets while trade negotiations with China, and now Mexico, are resolved.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, expressed concerns shortly after Trump’s announcement. “Trade policy and border security are separate issues. This is a misuse of presidential tariff authority and counter to congressional intent,” Grassley stated on Thursday. “I support nearly every one of the President Trump’s immigration policies, but this is not one of them.”
In particular, Grassley is warning that Trump’s new tariffs on Mexican imports could “seriously jeopardize” the administration’s hard-fought NAFTA agreements with both Canada and Mexico forged during the past year.
Peter Navarro, director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, defends the Trump administration’s reasoning for the tariffs, primarily by describing the scale of the Mexican immigration crisis. Speaking on CNBC, on Friday, May 31, Navarro explained, “What we have in Mexico is the export of illegal aliens. It’s a criminal enterprise. Any given day there are 100,000 illegal immigrants transiting through the entire country of Mexico. They’re transiting with the help of these transnational criminal organizations that are making billions of dollars off this trade.”
Navarro continued, “The statute being invoked here is the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. It requires two things. It requires a national emergency. Clearly we have that at the border. It requires a threat to our economy our foreign policy or our national security. Clearly we have that as well.”
Brandon Judd, National Border Patrol Council president, also defended the tariff policy in a TV interview last Friday, stating, “President Trump has tried to work with [Mexican President] Obrador for months now. This is not new. This is not a knee-jerk reaction. Obrador has refused to do it.”
Judd and others believe that the Mexican government and Mexico’s economy now rely on tens of billions of U.S. dollars that illegal immigration currently represents.
“There is so much money that the Mexican government makes through illegal trafficking of persons and narcotics into the United States that it boosts their economy,” Judd concluded. “They don’t want to stop illegal immigration. They don’t want to stop illegal drugs coming into the United States because they make so much money off of this. The only way that President Trump can get the Mexican government to react is to hit them where it counts, and that’s in the pocketbook.”
While Trump’s new tariff policy may not be popular, Judd believes it will ultimately be effective in garnering cooperation from Mexico to do its part to stop illegal immigration.
“Mexico will not be able to withstand these tariffs,” Judd predicts. “It will force them to act. It will force them to do the right thing. This is why we support President Trump in the direction he is going. He is going to get this under control, and he is going to force the Mexican government to be a partner in what we’re trying to do.”