Immigration Talks Already Underway As Mexico Rushes To Stave Off Tariff Threat


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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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Top Mexican government officials are in the United States as they attempt to dissuade the Trump administration from following through on tariff threats.

A high-level delegation of Mexican officials, including Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and Economy Minister Graciela Marquez, held a press conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday. Speaking from the Mexican embassy, the two leaders publicly called on the U.S. to reach a deal with their government instead of resorting to a tariff war.

The press conference and meeting come before the two countries are set to kick off official negotiations Wednesday. Mexican and U.S. delegations will try to reach a deal on the immigration crisis before a White House-imposed deadline quickly approaches.

The rush to reach a compromise comes after President Donald Trump on Thursday announced a 5% tax on all goods coming from Mexico beginning June 10, unless their government can prove that it is doing more to stop the record-flow of illegal migration running through its borders. Tariffs on Mexican goods, he added, would increase by 5% every month, with the rate reaching as high as 25% by October if Mexico fails to satisfy U.S. demands.

Trump on Sunday continued to hammer the country for its perceived inaction on the illegal immigration crisis.

“The problem is that Mexico is an ‘abuser’ of the United States, taking but never giving. It has been this way for decades,” he wrote on Twitter. “America has had enough!”

Under pressure from the Trump administration, Mexico has already acquiesced to a number of concessions.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has increased detentions and deportations of illegal migrants most of them from Central America. In a major win for the White House, Mexico agreed to hold a number of U.S. asylum seekers within its own country, a program known as “Wait in Mexico.” Thousands of asylum applicants are waiting in Mexico instead of the U.S. as their claims are processed through the immigration court system.

TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump speaks at a "Make America Great Again" rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on August 22, 2017. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

TOPSHOT – US President Donald Trump speaks at a “Make America Great Again” rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on August 22, 2017. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

However, Mexico’s concession have proven to do little to quell the crisis.

Migrant apprehensions have increased every month since January. Total migrant encounters at the southern border topped 100,000 both in March and April, and officials predict May will breach 120,000 once the official numbers are released. Customs and Border Protection intercepted over half a million illegal migrants since the beginning of fiscal year 2019, causing U.S. immigration resources to buckle under the weight. (RELATED: DHS Inks Deal With Guatemala To Combat Immigration Crisis)

It’s not yet clear what the Mexican government will offer to satisfy White House demands, but officials have already ruled out a “third safe country” option, which would direct migrants to apply for asylum Mexico. Their government has vowed to retaliate if U.S. tariffs are imposed on their goods.

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