In a surprise announcement that could derail a major trade deal, President Donald Trump says he is placing a 5% tariff on all Mexican imports, effective 10 June, to pressure the country to do more to crack down on the surge of Central American migrants trying to cross the US border.
He said the percentage will gradually increase — up to 25% — “until the illegal immigration problem is remedied."
The decision showed the administration going to new lengths, and looking for new levers, to pressure Mexico to take action — even if those risk upending other policy priorities, like the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a trade deal that is the cornerstone of Trump’s legislative agenda and seen as beneficial to his reelection effort. It also risks further damaging the already strained relationship between the US and Mexico, two countries whose economies are deeply intertwined.
Trump made the announcement by tweet after telling reporters earlier Thursday that he was planning “a major statement" that would be his “biggest" so far on the border.
“On June 10th, the US 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 wrote. “The Tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied."
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador responded in a public letter late Thursday, telling Trump that “social problems are not solved with duties or coercive measures" and alluded to the US’ history as a nation of immigrants. “The Statue of Liberty is not an empty symbol," he wrote. He also said he was dispatching his foreign relations secretary to Washington to try to negotiate a solution.
It wouldn’t be the first time Trump has punted on an immigration threat. In late March, Trump threatened to shut the entire US-Mexico border if Mexico didn’t immediately halt illegal immigration. Just a few days later, he backed off the threat, saying he was pleased with steps Mexico had taken in recent days. It was unclear, however, what Mexico had changed.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.