Sarah Sanders: White House Still ‘On Track’ To Slap Mexico With Tariffs

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday that President Donald Trump intends to move forward with punitive tariffs against Mexico, despite its government reportedly offering a number of concessions to stem the flow of illegal immigration.

“Our position hasn’t changed,” Sanders told the press aboard Air Force One, according to AFP.

“They’ve made a lot of progress,” she added. “The meetings have gone well, but as of now we’re still on track for tariffs on Monday.”

The press secretary’s comments come as negotiations between U.S. and Mexican delegations are set to conclude Friday. The goal of the talks was to reach a satisfactory deal to avoid a likely tariff war between the two countries over illegal immigration.

Trump announced in late May that he would slap all Mexican goods with a 5% tariff beginning on June 10 unless its government proves it can do more to stop the flow of illegal migrants pouring across its borders and into the U.S. The tariffs, under Trump’s plan, are to increase by increments of 5% every month and potentially reach a maximum of 25% by October.

Mexico immediately sent a delegation to Washington, D.C., to begin negotiations. High level officials from both countries were involved, with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard leading the talks.

It appeared that Mexico would give in enough to satisfy Trump’s demands. Leaks of the negations revealed that Mexico was willing to deploy up to 6,000 National Guard troops to its southern border with Guatemala — a major chokepoint for Central American migrants traveling northbound — and make sweeping changes to its asylum laws that would allow the U.S. to deport thousands of asylum-seekers back to Mexico and Guatemala.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the crisis in Venezuela during a visit to Florida International University in Miami, Florida, U.S., February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the crisis in Venezuela during a visit to Florida International University in Miami, Florida, U.S., Feb. 18, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The asylum concession appeared to be a major win for Trump. Mexican government officials began the negations by publicly stating a “safe third country” agreement would not be on the table, but requiring U.S. asylum seekers to return to the first country they entered after leaving their homeland appears to be a similar version of what the Trump administration was originally demanding.

Talks will continue for the remainder of Friday. However, some officials have already returned to Mexico, indicating that an agreement may not be reached before the Monday deadline. (RELATED: Mexico Steps Up Illegal Immigration Enforcement After Trump’s Tariff Threat)

If the White House moves forward with the tariff plan, Mexico has vowed to retaliate.

Trump later tweeted about the negotiations on Friday, suggesting there was a “good chance” a deal would be reached.

“If we are able to make the deal with Mexico, & there is a good chance that we will, they will begin purchasing Farm & Agricultural products at very high levels, starting immediately,” he wrote. “If we are unable to make the deal, Mexico will begin paying Tariffs at the 5% level on Monday!”

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