The Slatest

Trump Calls Off Tariff Threats After Mexico Agrees to Tighten Borders, Expand Asylum Program

Mexican US resident Roberto Márquez, places a United States national flag on the border wall next to Rio Grande river to demonstrate against the immigration policies of Donald Trump in the border between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on June 6, 2019.
Mexican US resident Roberto Márquez, places a United States national flag on the border wall next to Rio Grande river to demonstrate against the immigration policies of Donald Trump in the border between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on June 6, 2019.
HERIKA MARTINEZ/Getty Images

President Donald Trump pulled back from a threat of imposing tariffs that even many in his own party warned would damage the economy when he said a deal had been sealed with Mexico on immigration. Trump celebrated the deal on Twitter Friday night saying he wouldn’t impose a 5 percent tariff on Mexican goods, which he had threatened could increase to 25 percent over time, after its southern neighbor agreed to take certain measures on immigration. Trump tweeted in all-caps Saturday morning that Mexico had also agreed to buy “large quantities” of Agricultural products from the United States, although nothing about that was mentioned in the joint declaration released by the two countries.

“I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico,” the president tweeted Friday night. “The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended.

After three days of talks in Washington, Mexico agreed to take more migrants seeking asylum in the United States while they wait for their cases to be decided. “The United States will immediately expand the implementation of the existing Migrant Protection Protocols across its entire Southern Border,” the two countries said in a joint statement. “This means that those crossing the U.S. Southern Border to seek asylum will be rapidly returned to Mexico where they may await the adjudication of their asylum claims.” Mexico also agreed to deploy National Guard troops throughout the country to curb illegal immigration, with a focus on strengthening its southern border.

Mexico did successfully push back on a U.S. demand to be designated as a “safe third country” that would have forced it to take in most asylum seekers from Central America. “I think it’s a fair balance because they had more drastic measures and proposals at the start and we reached some middle point,” Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said. Analysts warned though that while Mexico was able to push back potentially disastrous tariffs, it will come at a big cost. “Mexico successfully avoided the catastrophe of tariffs but will pay a heavy price,” said Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. “Potentially tens of thousands of refugee claimants will have to wait in Mexico while their claims are processed. Mexico will have to house, employ, educate and provide health care for them. This is a huge commitment.”

Trump continued patting himself on the back for the agreement on Saturday morning. “Mexico will try very hard,” he wrote on Twitter, “and if they do that, this will be a very successful agreement for both the United States and Mexico!” The president later kept on celebrating: “Everyone very excited about the new deal with Mexico!

Sen. Chuck Schumer sarcastically responded to the president’s announcement, calling it a “historic night.” Trump “has announced that he has cut a deal to ‘greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States,’” Schumer wrote. “Now that that problem is solved, I’m sure we won’t be hearing any more about it in the future.”