Sunday 18 August 2019

Mexico tries to convince US it has stemmed flow of migrants

Mike Pence: US Vice-President led talks with Mexican delegation. Photo: Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP
Mike Pence: US Vice-President led talks with Mexican delegation. Photo: Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP

Rachael Alexander

Mexican officials sought to persuade the White House yesterday that their government has done enough to stem immigration and avoid looming tariffs.

US Vice-President Mike Pence led the talks in Washington, which were also attended by Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard.

US authorities at the southern border with Mexico have become overwhelmed in recent years by an increase in mostly Central American families and unaccompanied minors seeking asylum to escape violence back home.

Frustrated by the lack of progress on a signature issue from his 2016 presidential election campaign, US President Donald Trump unexpectedly announced last week he would impose 5pc tariffs on all imports from Mexico, rising to as much as 25pc later in the year, unless Mexico took a harder line.

Mr Trump, who landed here yesterday afternoon as part of a US state visit said on Tuesday it was "likely" that the first wave of tariffs, set for next week, would go ahead.

He has faced significant pushback from his own Republican Party over the tariffs, with many lawmakers concerned about their potential impact on cross-border trade and on US businesses and consumers.

They warned the White House not to count on the same level of support it received earlier this year, when Mr Trump declared a national emergency to divert funds to build barriers at the border.

"We're not real fond of tariffs, so don't assume you can have the exact same level of support. That was my basic message," Senator Ron Johnson told reporters yesterday.

The tariff threat has raised questions over the future of a three-way deal with Canada to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Mr Pence is the Trump administration's point person for getting Congress to approve the new deal.

Mr Ebrard has said the threatened tariffs would be devastating to Mexico's economy, and the delegation was expected to try to show that authorities are taking steps to stem the flow of migrants.

Irish Independent

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