Shocked Mexico Sends Foreign Minister to D.C. for Friday Tariff Meetings

A migrant heading in a caravan to the US, holds Mexican, US and Honduran national flags on the road linking Ciudad Hidalgo and Tapachula, Chiapas state, Mexico, on October 21, 2018. - Thousands of Honduran migrants resumed their march toward the United States on Sunday from the southern Mexican city …
PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images

Mexico’s government is sending its foreign minister to D.C. for meetings on Friday after President Donald Trump promised to impose trade tariffs until Mexico helps end the huge migration from Central America.

Reuters reported Mexico’s quick reaction after Trump’s late-Thursday announcement:

“JUST IN: Mexico’s President Lopez Obrador asks Trump to have U.S. officials meet with the Mexican foreign minister in Washington on Friday to seek a solution that benefits both nations”

But Trump’s promise of tariffs came after many months of negotiations with Mexico, during which U.S. officials sought an agreement that would deter the flood of migrants from traveling through Mexico to the U.S. border. That flood is expected to hit 800,000 people by October — while many more poor people debate whether to join the rush for America.

U.S. business groups oppose the tariffs partly because they have moved many of their production operations into cheap-labor Mexican factories and farms — but also because they gain from the flow of Central American migrants into Americans’ workplaces, apartments, groceries, and schools.

“Mexico is our friend and neighbor, a partner in trade and security,” Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Glenn Hamer told the Washington Post. “The president’s announcement is baffling and, if carried out, will be terribly damaging.”

The migration means that employers get an extra supply of tough, compliant, low-wage workers just as labor shortages are forcing companies to boost pay for Americans. The extra labor supply also reduces employers’ incentive to hire from the population of 12 million unemployed or underemployed Americans, some of whom are sidelined by disability, underinvestment in rural areas, or by drugs.

U.S. border agencies say they provided work permits to 462,00 migrants in 2017 and to 363,000 migrants in 2018. The agencies declined to provide details or to say how long the work permits last.

Trump’s deputies quickly sought to blunt the opposition from business and the establishment media.

“There may be some growing pains with this,” adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle told Thursday’s broadcast of CNN’s Cuomo Primetime. She said:

 [Trump] will fulfill this promise. It’s going to be 5 percent. It’s going to have an escalator if they don’t take it seriously. I think he’s going to get their attention, just like he has with China. Tariffs work, if you have patience at the plate.

Todd Schulte, the director of a D.C. advocacy group for cheap-labor migration, said in a tweet that Trump is using the tariffs to pressure Mexico to sign an agreement which would allow the U.S. government to reject migrants who pass through Mexico.

A “safe third country” agreement might allow fast-track rejection of asylum requests from people who do not seek asylum in Mexico. In turn, that quick rejection could also allow the border agencies to send migrants home without releasing them to get the U.S. jobs that are needed to repay their smuggling debts to the cartel-backed coyotes.

Schulte’s FWD.us group was founded by a network of West Coast investors, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

The United States has long pressured Mexico to shut down the migration routes across its territory.

But Mexico’s federal and state governments zig-zag between public cooperation and quiet passivity amid deep public sympathy for the Central American migrants.

The nation’s security agencies conduct periodic crackdowns on the huge migrant flow from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, even as the armed cartels quietly run transport networks — including a bus service — that openly traffic laborers and migrants into the United States.

The cartels’ labor trafficking is hugely profitable and generated up to $2.3 billion in revenue in 2017, according to a study by the Rand Corporation. The revenue ensures the cartels can bribe and threaten many people in Mexico’s federal and state agencies.

The White House issued a statement explaining Trump’s dramatic announcement:

As everyone knows, the United States of America has been invaded by hundreds of thousands of people coming through Mexico and entering our country illegally. This sustained influx of illegal aliens has profound consequences on every aspect of our national life—overwhelming our schools, overcrowding our hospitals, draining our welfare system, and causing untold amounts of crime. Gang members, smugglers, human traffickers, and illegal drugs and narcotics of all kinds are pouring across the Southern Border and directly into our communities. Thousands of innocent lives are taken every year as a result of this lawless chaos. It must end NOW!

Mexico’s passive cooperation in allowing this mass incursion constitutes an emergency and extraordinary threat to the national security and economy of the United States. Mexico has very strong immigration laws and could easily halt the illegal flow of migrants, including by returning them to their home countries. Additionally, Mexico could quickly and easily stop illegal aliens from coming through its southern border with Guatemala.

For decades, the United States has suffered the severe and dangerous consequences of illegal immigration. Sadly, Mexico has allowed this situation to go on for many years, growing only worse with the passage of time. From a safety, national security, military, economic, and humanitarian standpoint, we cannot allow this grave disaster to continue. The current state of affairs is profoundly unfair to the American taxpayer, who bears the extraordinary financial cost imposed by large-scale illegal migration. Even worse is the terrible and preventable loss of human life. Some of the most deadly and vicious gangs on the planet operate just across our border and terrorize innocent communities.

Mexico must step up and help solve this problem. We welcome people who come to the United States legally, but we cannot allow our laws to be broken and our borders to be violated. For years, Mexico has not treated us fairly—but we are now asserting our rights as a sovereign Nation.

To address the emergency at the Southern Border, I am invoking the authorities granted to me by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Accordingly, starting on June 10, 2019, the United States will impose a 5 percent Tariff on all goods imported from Mexico. If the illegal migration crisis is alleviated through effective actions taken by Mexico, to be determined in our sole discretion and judgment, the Tariffs will be removed. If the crisis persists, however, the Tariffs will be raised to 10 percent on July 1, 2019. Similarly, if Mexico still has not taken action to dramatically reduce or eliminate the number of illegal aliens crossing its territory into the United States, Tariffs will be increased to 15 percent on August 1, 2019, to 20 percent on September 1, 2019, and to 25 percent on October 1, 2019. Tariffs will permanently remain at the 25 percent level unless and until Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory. Workers who come to our country through the legal admissions process, including those working on farms, ranches, and in other businesses, will be allowed easy passage.

If Mexico fails to act, Tariffs will remain at the high level, and companies located in Mexico may start moving back to the United States to make their products and goods. Companies that relocate to the United States will not pay the Tariffs or be affected in any way.

Over the years, Mexico has made massive amounts of money in its dealings with the United States, and this includes the tremendous number of jobs leaving our country.

Should Mexico choose not to cooperate on reducing unlawful migration, the sustained imposition of Tariffs will produce a massive return of jobs back to American cities and towns. Remember, our great country has been the “piggy bank” from which everybody wants only to TAKE. The difference is that now we are firmly and forcefully standing up for America’s interests.

We have confidence that Mexico can and will act swiftly to help the United States stop this long-term, dangerous, and deeply unfair problem. The United States has been very good to Mexico for many years. We are now asking that Mexico immediately do its fair share to stop the use of its territory as a conduit for illegal immigration into our country.

The cartels and coyotes are having a greater and greater impact on the Mexican side of our Southern Border. This is a dire threat that must be decisively eliminated. Billions of dollars are made, and countless lives are ruined, by these ruthless and merciless criminal organizations. Mexico must bring law and order to its side of the border.

Democrats in Congress are fully aware of this horrible situation and yet refuse to help in any way, shape, or form. This is a total dereliction of duty. The migrant crisis is a calamity that must now be solved—and can easily be solved—in Congress. Our broken asylum laws, court system, catch-and-release, visa lottery, chain migration, and many other loopholes can all be promptly corrected. When that happens, the measures being announced today can be more readily reduced or removed.

The United States is a great country that can no longer be exploited due to its foolish and irresponsible immigration laws. For the sake of our people, and for the sake of our future, these horrendous laws must be changed now.

At the same time, Mexico cannot allow hundreds of thousands of people to pour over its land and into our country—violating the sovereign territory of the United States. If Mexico does not take decisive measures, it will come at a significant price.

We therefore look forward to, and appreciate, the swift and effective actions that we hope Mexico will immediately install.

As President of the United States, my highest duty is the defense of the country and its citizens. A nation without borders is not a nation at all. I will not stand by and allow our sovereignty to be eroded, our laws to be trampled, or our borders to be disrespected anymore.

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