Mexico is willing to send more troops to its southern border and accept sweeping changes to its asylum laws in a last-ditch attempt to prevent Donald Trump from imposing tariffs on all Mexican imports starting next Monday.
Vice President Mike Pence, who is monitoring the ongoing talks, said Thursday it was “for the president to decide” if Mexico’s proposals — to add 6000 troops at the border and keep most Central American migrants in the country instead of allowing them to proceed to the U.S. — were enough.
The president, however, was busy golfing Friday morning with the manager of his money-losing golf resort in Doonbeg, on the west coast of Ireland.
With the deadline looming for the imposition of the new tariffs, Trump won’t arrive back in Washington until Friday evening, leaving him little time to resolve the matter before the taxes kick in on Monday.
Trump caused the current crisis with last week’s surprise announcement that he would impose tariffs of 5 percent on all Mexican goods from June 10. He said the tax would continue to increase, as high as 25 percent by October, if Mexico did not take satisfactory action to prevent migrants from crossing the border illegally.
The plan has been met with widespread opposition: Democrats, business leaders and members of Trump’s own party have called on him to withdraw the threat.
In talks on Thursday, Mexico made significant efforts to show it was serious about stemming the flow of migrants through its country and into the U.S.
As well as promising to send 6,000 national guard troops to the border with Guatemala if a deal is reached, Mexico’s foreign minister told officials his government is willing to accept a dramatic overhaul of asylum rules across the region.
Under the proposed new rules, migrants coming from Central America would seek refuge in the first country they enter. For Guatemalans, that would be Mexico, and for migrants from El Salvador and Honduras, it would be Guatemala.
Under the proposed new rules, migrants coming from Central America would seek refuge in the first country they enter.
Any migrants who reached the U.S. border would be deported back to the appropriate third country. Those claiming fear of death or torture in their home country would be subject to tougher screening procedures.
Despite these efforts, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday that the U.S. was “still moving forward with tariffs at this time.”
While Pence said he was “encouraged” by the talks, which will continue Friday, no deal has been agreed to, and it’s unclear how Trump views the progress being made so far.
On Wednesday, the president tweeted his dissatisfaction at how the talks were progressing, and reiterated his threat to impose the tariffs on Monday.
Economists and some members of the Republican Party have claimed the tariffs on Mexico will ultimately harm U.S. businesses and consumers, with one report out this week suggesting 400,000 U.S jobs are on the line. Trump rejected this suggestion on Thursday, claiming instead that the U.S. would "make a fortune because all the companies are going to move back into the country."
But those at the front line of the potential trade war are fearful of the impact on their businesses.
"The simple plumbing of trade is not something that some of these companies are familiar with or that they're set up to immediately start using," John Murphy, senior vice president for international policy at the US Chamber of Commerce, told CNN. “The writing's on the wall already that many simply will not be ready to pay duties beginning on Monday.”
Trump, speaking to Fox News from France where he was attending D-Day commemorations, said tariffs are “a beautiful thing” but said his negotiating position was being hindered by the opposition he was facing within his own party.
“I have these people — and I'm saying there are some Republicans, too — I think they should be ashamed of themselves. They come out and they talk about 'tariffs are bad,' so, they are killing, they are hurting my negotiation."
Cover: Marine One helicopter arrives at Trump International Golf Resort Doonbeg, west of Ireland, Thursday, June 6, 2019. President Trump is overnighting in Ireland after attending the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings events in northern France Thursday. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)