Updated at 10 p.m. ET
President Trump announced that he will begin imposing tariffs on all goods imported from Mexico beginning June 10 unless that country does more to help reduce illegal immigration from Central America.
In a statement issued late Thursday, the president cited his authority under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and said the crisis at the southern border requires action.
“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.”
Trump added that unless the Mexican government takes steps to “dramatically reduce or eliminate” the flow of Central American migrants moving through its country, tariffs will go to 15% on August 1, to 20% on Sept. 1, and to 25% on Oct. 1. “Tariffs will permanently remain at the 25 percent level unless and until Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory,” he wrote.
Mexico’s deputy foreign minister for North America, Jesus Seade, said that it would be disastrous if Trump imposed the new tariffs.
Trump’s surprise announcement comes as the administration is urging Congress to approve the pending U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement which is designed to replace the North American Trade Agreement reached in 1994. It is not immediately clear what impact the tariff threat will have on the draft agreement.
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, in a conference call with reporters, said the trade agreement and tariff threat “are not linked.”
“These are not tariffs as part of a trade dispute,” Mulvaney said. “These are tariffs as part of an immigration problem. USMCA is a trade mattter and completely separate.”
When asked which Mexican imports the administration means to target, Mulvaney replied “all of them.”
Acting Secretary for Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan, in the same conference call, said the border crisis has become “a national emergency.”
“U.S. immigration authorities now have over 80,000 people in custody, a record level that is beyond sustainable capacity with current resources,” he said.
The president’s statement called for action by Mexico:
“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.”