Mexico, GOP Establishment Try to Block Tariffs and Immigration Deal

President-elect of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, speaks during a press conference to announce Marcelo Ebrard's appointment as Minister of Foreign Affairs at Salon D'Luz on July 5, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)
Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

A top official in Mexico’s government is rejecting the White House’s call for a “safe third country” immigration deal, and some GOP leaders are trying to prevent President Donald Trump from getting a deal by imposing tariffs on Mexico.

The ‘safe third country’ agreement would deter migrants from leaving Central American because it would allow U.S. border agencies to quickly reject asylum applications from migrants who cross through Mexico. The quick rejection would prevent the migrants from using Congress’ catch-and-release rules to get the U.S. jobs needed to pay their smuggling debts to the cartel-linked smugglers.

A safe third country deal “would not be acceptable to Mexico,” Mexico’s deputy foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, told a press conference in Washington on Monday, June 3. “It would not be acceptable and [U.S. officials] know it,” he added. Instead, Americans should provide economic aid to the Central American countries whose populations are moving into the United States, he said.

GOP legislators told the Washington Post they are trying to push back against Trump’s promised tariffs on Mexico if Mexico’s government does not curb the migration. The paper reported June 4:

Congressional Republicans have begun discussing whether they may have to vote to block President Trump’s planned new tariffs on Mexico, potentially igniting a second standoff this year over Trump’s use of executive powers to circumvent Congress, people familiar with the talks said.

“I think this calls into question our ability to pass the USMCA [trade deal], much less get it passed by Canada and by Mexico,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) told reporters Monday. “And so we need to put our heads together and try to come up with a solution.”

“We have a lot of members who are very concerned, I think, about where this is headed,” said Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.). Thune added that if the tariff standoff continues, “Congress is going to want to probably be heard from” in terms of trying to limit Trump’s tariff authority.

But Trump used his Tuesday press conference in London to push back against the GOP establishment.

“Oh, I don’t think they will do that, I think if they did it’s foolish,” he said. Trump continued:

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.

Trump suggested that Mexico will not agree to the deal until they feel the pain from tariffs, saying, “It’s more likely the tariffs go on and we’ll probably be talking during the time the tariffs are on.”

It is not clear if Ebrard’s opposition to a safe third country deal is shared by other Mexican leaders. He is an outspoken opponent of Trump who compared him to Adolf Hitler during the 2016 election.

In contrast, many Mexican officials recognize that Trump’s proposed tariffs could badly damage Mexico’s economy.

Mexico’s President López Obrador is zig-zagging. He released a letter on Thursday saying Americans cannot exclude migrants, but posted a tweet on Sunday saying, “The president of Mexico wants to continue being a great friend of President Trump”:

According to Reuters, Obrador declined to rule out a safe third country deal when he was asked during a Saturday press conference. “He did not answer the question, but pressure has grown steadily on his government to give ground on the issue,” Reuters said.

However, Obrador also said that “the main thing is to inform about what we’re already doing on the migration issue, and if it’s necessary to reinforce these measures without violating human rights, we could be prepared to reach that deal.”

Obrador is touting support from Mexico’s billionaires who oppose Trump’s promise to raise trade tariffs if Mexico does not curb the Central American migration into the United States.

“I appreciate the solidarity of rich and poor, of the vast majority of Mexicans on the issue of rates that President Trump wants to impose. As expressed by humble families, it is transmitted by businessmen like Slim, Alemán, and others. See the letter from Alberto Baillères,” he said in a Monday tweet:

The letter, from Mexican multi-billionaire Alberto Baillères, said:

Dear Senior President, regarding the letter you sent to President Trump in relation to the threat of imposing tariffs on Mexican products, I wish to congratulate and express support and sympathy for you. Both the content and the tone of the letter, written with dignity and decorum, show the character of a head of state who knows how to defend the interests of our beloved Mexico in a constructive way.

I send you a cordial greeting, with respect and affection.

Ballieres’ companies are involved in silver mining insurance, retail stores, financial services, and agriculture.

U.S. business groups are also trying to block Trump’s tariff strategy, saying that immigration and trade policies should not be linked.

But White House officials want the safe third country deal, Politico reported Tuesday:

“I know for a fact that they’ve been pushing hard for Mexico to sign that safe third country [deal],” [acting ICE director Mark] Morgan said Tuesday. “The international standard is that when you depart a country, you claim asylum in the first country you come to.”

Immigration Numbers

Each year, roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after graduating from high school or university.

But the federal government then imports about 1.1 million legal immigrants and refreshes a resident population of roughly 1.5 million white-collar visa workers — including approximately one million H-1B workers — and approximately 500,000 blue-collar visa workers.

The government also prints out more than one million work permits for foreigners, tolerates about eight million illegal workers, and does not punish companies for employing the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants who sneak across the border or overstay their legal visas each year.

This policy of inflating the labor supply boosts economic growth for investors because it ensures that employers do not have to compete for American workers by offering higher wages and better working conditions.

This policy of flooding the market with cheap, foreign, white-collar graduates and blue-collar labor also shifts enormous wealth from young employees towards older investors, even as it also widens wealth gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, and hurts children’s schools and college educations. It also pushes Americans away from high-tech careers and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions. The labor policy also moves business investment and wealth from the heartland to the coastal citiesexplodes rents and housing costsshrivels real estate values in the Midwest, and rewards investors for creating low-tech, labor-intensive workplaces.

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