(PM) — President Donald Trump proclaimed late Friday that he had halted ideas to inflict tariffs on Mexico, tweeting that the nation “has agreed to take strong measures” to stem the tide of Central American migrants inside the United States. But the agreement the two neighbors accepted to drops short of some of the climactic overhauls the U.S. had promoted.
A “U.S.-Mexico Joint Declaration” released by the State Department said the U.S. “will immediately expand the implementation” of a plan that returns asylum-seekers who traverse the southern border to Mexico while their claims are settled. Mexico will “offer jobs, healthcare and education” to those people, the agreement declared.
Mexico has also accepted, it said, to take “unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration,” including the deployment of the Mexican National Guard throughout the nation, especially on its southerly border with Guatemala. And Mexico is exerting “decisive action to dismantle human smuggling and trafficking organizations as well as their illicit financial and transportation networks,” the State Department said.
The move settles — for now — a signal that had sparked dire warnings from constituents of Trump’s own party, who predicted the tariffs would undermine the economy, push up prices for consumers and jeopardize an updated North American trade agreement.
The changes, in part, maintain steps the Trump regime was already taking. The U.S. published in December that it would make some asylum seekers remain in Mexico while their cases were being progressed — a begrudging agreement among Mexico that has taken months to scale and that has been tormented with glitches, including wrong court dates, travel problems and issues with lawyers reaching their clients.
Homeland Security officials have been ramping up slowly and were previously acting to expand the program along the border before the latest blowup. About 10,000 people have been delivered to Mexico to wait out the processing of their immigration cases since the program launched Jan. 29.
The 5% charge on all Mexican goods, which would raise every month up to 25% under Trump’s plan, would have had immense financial implications for both nations. Americans purchased $378 billion worth of Mexican imports in 2018 led by cars and auto parts. Many constituents of Trump’s Republican Party and business allies had urged him to reconsider citing the potential harm to American consumers and manufacturers.
Since Trump published the tariff threat, observers questioned whether he would raise tariffs.
In March, Trump threatened to close the entire U.S.-Mexico border if Mexico didn’t immediately stop illegal immigration. Just a few days later, he reversed that intimidation, saying he was satisfied with steps Mexico had taken. It was unclear, what — if anything — Mexico had changed.
U.S. and Mexican officials communicated for more than 10 hours Friday throughout the third day of talks at the U.S. State Department trying to figure out an agreement that would placate Trump’s wish that Mexico dramatically increases its efforts to crack down on migrants.