President Trump attended a news conference in London on Tuesday, June 4, with outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May. The president was asked about current tensions with Mexico regarding illegal immigration, which has seen record setting numbers of migrants entering the United States illegally.

Reporter: Has Mexico done enough to avoid tariffs, which will be imposed in some six days from now?

President Trump: No, we haven’t started yet.

Reporter: But the threat is out there?

President Trump: Yeah, the threat is out there but we haven’t really started yet. No, this will take effect next week at 5 percent.

Since the president threatened to impose tariffs on Mexico last week, Mexican officials have traveled to Washington to meet with their Trump administration counterparts.

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In the news conference the president said, “I want to see security at our border … as you know Mexico called, they want to meet. They’re going to meet on Wednesday. Secretary Pompeo is going to be at the meeting, along with a few others, that are very good at this and we are going to see if we can do something. But, I think it’s more likely that the tariffs go on and we’ll probably be talking during the time that the tariffs are on and they’re going to be paid.”

The president addressed the large numbers of migrants traveling long distances through Mexico to the United States, mainly from Guatemala and Honduras and said that lawmakers could put an end to this.

”It’s a 2,000-mile journey and they’re coming up to our border and our border patrol, which is incredible, they’re apprehending them. But our laws are bad because the Democrats don’t want to pass laws that could be passed in 15 minutes, that could be passed quickly. In one day it could change.”

President Donald J. Trump participates in a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May, on June 4, 2019, at No. 10 Downing Street in London. (Shealah Craighead/Official White House Photo)

The president added that Mexico also has the ability to change the situation and if it chooses not to it will face increasing tariffs and other potential economic consequences.

”Mexico shouldn’t allow millions of people to try and enter our country and they could stop it very quickly. And I think they will and if they won’t we’re going to put tariffs on and every month those tariffs go from 5 percent to 10 percent to 15 percent to 20 and then to 25 percent. And what will happen then is all of those companies that have left our country and gone to Mexico are going to be coming back to us. And that’s OK.”

Due to a large trade imbalance between Mexico and the United States, which greatly benefits Mexico, the Mexican government has much less leverage in a dispute regarding tariffs. However, Mexico hinted at its own potential leverage in a statement released by Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretariat, saying, “Without these important Mexican efforts in immigration matters, the United States would receive 250,000 additional migrants, only in 2019.” 

Some U.S. officials have suggested designating Mexico a “safe third country.” This would force Central Americans who are traveling through Mexico to seek asylum in the United States, to instead apply for asylum in Mexico.

Speaking to reporters in Washington where he has traveled for talks, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said, “An agreement about a safe third country would not be acceptable for Mexico. They have not yet proposed it to me. But it would not be acceptable and they know it.”

Just as Mexico clearly does not want to accept massive numbers of asylum-seekers and mass illegal immigration into its country, the United States shares those concerns as President Trump urged Mexico to help.

”Mexico should step up and stop this onslaught, this invasion into our country,” said the president.

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