Trump vows 5% tariff on all goods from Mexico in bid to stop migrants
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct an error in a statistic on migrants detained at the U.S. border.
U.S. President Donald Trump has promised to impose a 5 per cent tariff on Mexican goods in an attempt to prevent asylum seekers from entering the U.S. at the southern border.
“For years, Mexico has not treated us fairly — but we are now asserting our rights as a sovereign nation,” Trump said in a statement on Thursday.
The proposed tariffs would be effective on June 10, the statement said. If Mexico doesn’t take action to stop the influx of migrants into the U.S., the penalties will increase incrementally and become fixed at 25 per cent on Oct. 1.
“Mexico has very strong immigration laws and could easily halt the illegal flow of migrants, including by returning them to their home countries,” Trump said.
Trump said he would impose the tariffs through the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
Tariffs, which would be paid by U.S. companies on any goods they want to import, have been criticized for the impact they have on American consumers and businesses.
Trump’s statement argued that if strong tariffs are sustained, they could encourage companies operating in Mexico to move back to the U.S.
It’s not clear where the announcement leaves the yet-to-be-ratified Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement on trade.
Jesus Seade, Mexico’s deputy foreign minister for North America, said it would be disastrous if Trump goes through with the measure.
Trump’s announcement followed a promise of dramatic action on the southern border, made earlier on Thursday.
He previously pushed for stronger laws and threatened to shut down the border over a large increase in the number of people from Central America entering the U.S. through Mexico.
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According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, more than a quarter of a million migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico have been apprehended by border guards on the southwest border from October to April.
Four children, including most recently a two-year-old, have died after being detained by the Border Patrol since December.
Trump has linked the border crossings to illegal activity including human trafficking, drugs and gangs. In the statement, he said the U.S. was being “invaded.”
In February, he declared a national emergency on the border with Mexico in order to access funds to build the wall.
Such actions demonstrate a “fundamental misunderstanding of current migration at the southern border,” the Brookings Institution wrote in April.
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To tackle forced migration, Duke University Prof. Sarah Bermeo argued that the U.S. should take on a “three-track policy response.”
Such a response would involve tackling violence and corruption in Central America, contributing foreign aid to help with health and education, and developing policy that allows asylum seekers to remain in the U.S. temporarily.
With files from Reuters and the Associated Press
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