White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that President Donald Trump is "deadly serious" about levying a 5% tariff on Mexican goods if the Mexican government doesn't step up enforcement of illegal immigration on the southern side of the border, and now it appears the Mexican government is serious about complying to avoid a trade war.
Mulvaney told Fox News Sunday that Trump's threat was not an empty one.
"He is absolutely, deadly serious," Mulvaney said on the morning news program, according to Politico. "I fully expect these tariffs to go on to at least the 5 percent level on June 10."
He added that the White House has been working with the Mexican government "for months," pushing immigration forces there to turn away "caravans" of migrants from central America, and demanding that the Mexican government lend a hand in the border crisis. Now, Mulvaney said, the border is in an "emergency situation" and the U.S. will no longer tolerate a lack of attention from Mexican officials.
The reason we're doing things people don't expect is that we're facing things at the border we never experienced before," Mulvaney added in a later appearance on NBC, Politico reports. "We're using extraordinary tools because there is extraordinary circumstances that dictate those."
The 5% tariff goes into effect this week. If the Mexican government continues to refuse to help, the tariff will increase to "10 percent on July 1; 15 percent on Aug. 1; 20 percent on Sept. 1; and 25 percent on Oct. 1," according to White House officials.
To prove they're listening, Mulvaney said that Mexico would need to show improvement in policing their own southern border, for starters.
Democrats bristled at the thought of instituting tariffs on Meixcan goods and accused Trump, last week, of starting an unnecessary trade war. They also insisted, as before, that the crisis at the southern border is of Trump's own making and that administration policies have forced border patrol officials to detain more immigrants and asylum seekers than ever before.
The White House, of course, fired back, noting that Democrats have dutifully ignored any request from the White House to approve the emergency funding necessary to care for the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers who have appeared at the border in recent months. The administration insists that if Congress will not help, it will pursue other avenues, including tariffs, to entice Mexico to assist.
The plan appears to be working.
The Associated Press reports that Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador "hinted his country could tighten migration controls to defuse U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on Mexican goods," and that he plans on engaging the White House in talks this week, which he hopes will be fruitful.
Lopez Obrador insisted, in the same news conference, that the Mexican government has ramped up immigration enforcement along Mexico's southern border and that officials have been working diligently to turn back migrant caravans, limit the number of migrant visas issued, and capture and deport recognized criminals, including MS-13 gang members.
“The main thing is to inform about what we’re already doing on the migration issue, and if it’s necessary to reinforce these measures without violating human rights, we could be prepared to reach that deal,” Lopez Obrador said Sunday.
“We’re doing all we can to reach a deal through dialogue,” he added. “We’re not going to get into a trade war, a war of tariffs and of taxes.”