Monday, June 10, is the day the Trump administration has vowed to impose a punitive tariff of 5 percent on all imports from Mexico, unless the Mexican government takes strict measures to stop the flow of illegal immigrants from Central America entering the U.S. across the Mexican border.
As Trump’s deadline approaches, Mexican authorities have now begun taking action to block illegal immigrants.
Mexican military police reportedly began intercepting groups of hundreds of migrants en route from Central America on Wednesday, June 5, and have begun to identify and arrest individual activists who are known to assist illegal immigrants.
Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, who is leading a delegation of diplomats from Mexico in Washington, has pledged to deploy 6,000 National Guard troops near Mexico’s border with Guatemala in order to stop the illegal immigration.
The United States and Mexico are now working to update and enforce rules for immigrants, including for asylum-seekers, and are working to establish timelines for implementation of the new measures. Mexico had already increased markedly its detention and deportation of migrants from Central America in recent weeks.
Despite the progress, the Trump administration still plans to apply tariffs to all Mexican imports. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters yesterday afternoon, “Our position hasn’t changed. The tariffs will move forward and go into effect on Monday.”
Trump has vowed to increase tariffs on all Mexican imports systematically, to as high as 25 percent by October, if illegal immigration is not brought to a halt.
The administration’s strategy of imposing tariffs on Mexico as a punishment for allowing illegal immigrants to pass through to the United States is a bold and somewhat unorthodox approach to the border crisis. President Trump draws authority under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which gives him the power to use economic regulations after declaring a national emergency.
Trump is now expected to declare a new national emergency just before the sweeping tariffs are to go into effect.
Brandon Judd, National Border Patrol Council president, has defended Trump’s tariff policy, stating in a TV interview last week, “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 have come to rely on tens of billions of US dollars that illegal immigration currently represents, making illegal immigration a systemic problem.
“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.”