On Thursday, President Trump suddenly announced a new 5% tariff on Mexico, which will begin in early June. Trump explained that the levy will “gradually increase” until the continuous surge of illegal immigration at the Mexico border is “remedied” and illegal migrants “STOP.” Trump wrote: "On June 10th, the United States 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. The Tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied, ... ..at which time the Tariffs will be removed. Details from the White House to follow." According to Fox News, the tariff on all goods from Mexico coming in by air, land, and sea will increase to 10% on July 1. According to Trump, there is a possibility that the tariffs will significantly increase from there.
In a statement released by the White House on Thursday, Trump said: "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."
The statement continued by adding: "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." Fox News was told by the White House that Mexico would have to step up their security efforts, crack down on illegal bus lines, align with the U.S. on a workable asylum policy, and target transnational smugglers. According to sources, Mexico could use specific “choke points” on the southern border to significantly curb illegal migration.
According to the Washington Post, the Trump administration was thinking about making the move, and even though some of Trump’s aides attempted to talk him out of it, he had the support of the White House behind him. Early Thursday, Trump told reporters: “We are going to do something very dramatic on the border because people are coming into our country.”
The International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 allows tariffs to be levied by the president in the event of a national emergency, as long as it comes from a foreign source. President Trump stated that he was invoking the powers the law provided him and he would use his “sole discretion” to determine that Mexico had taken the appropriate measures. "If Mexico does not take decisive measures, it will come at a significant price," said Trump in his statement. This situation could greatly complicate the passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which was sent by the White House to Congress on Thursday. The USMCA has aimed to limit the tariffs among the three countries. According to Fox News, the White House said that it saw the matters as distinct and they weren’t expecting any kind of complication.
Gage Skidmore / Flickr
On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence was in the Canadian capital of Ottawa to build support for the USMCA. Recently, the U.S. lifted steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada that threatened to sink the arrangement, which was signed in November in an attempt to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons .
The news of the tariff came shortly after Politico reported that there was an internal plan under consideration at the Department of Homeland Security that would effectively block migrants from Central America from bringing claims of asylum. This would be achieved by prohibiting claims from applicants who lived in a country other than their own before attempting to get into the United States.
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In recent months, arrests along the southern border have skyrocketed. In March alone, border agents made more than 100,000 arrests or denials of entry. This was the highest it’s been in 12 years. The immigration courts that process asylum claims are facing a backlog of more than 800,000 cases. The number of asylum applicants that have been staying in the United States after their claims have been denied has significantly increased, as well. According to Fox News, officials say that there have been more than 4,000 people apprehended at the border with children that are not their own. In April, Customs and Border Protection said that apprehended or turned away more than 109,000 migrants attempting to cross the border into the United States.
Early Wednesday, more than 1,000 illegal migrants were apprehended near the U.S.-Mexico border. According to Fox News, a source explained that this was the largest group of migrants ever apprehended at the border at one time. The group included migrants from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. On Thursday, Trump tweeted a video of the situation and posted the note: “Democrats need to stand by our incredible Border Patrol and finally fix the loopholes at our Border!”
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In April, a top Border Patrol official told lawmakers that authorities have apprehended more families illegally crossing the border between October of 2018 and February of this year than all of 2018. Rio Grande Sector Chief Patrol Agent Rodolfo Karisch told the Senate Homeland Security Committee: "Much media attention has focused on caravans coming across from Central America, But, the fact is that RGV is receiving caravan-equivalent numbers every seven days."