Thursday 20 June 2019

Trump wants more from Mexico to halt trade tariffs

Making his point: US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania. Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Making his point: US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania. Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Makini Brice

US president Donald Trump has hinted more would need to be revealed by Mexico before the threat of new sanctions would be taken off the table.

He said he would await new details about a migration pact the United States signed with the country last week.

Trump voter: Murdered gangster James 'Whitey' Bulger. Photo: REUTERS/U.S. Marshals Service/U.S. Department of Justice/Handout via Reuters
Trump voter: Murdered gangster James 'Whitey' Bulger. Photo: REUTERS/U.S. Marshals Service/U.S. Department of Justice/Handout via Reuters

Another portion of the deal would have to be ratified by Mexican lawmakers.

He did not elaborate but threatened tariffs if Mexico's Congress did not approve the plan.

"We have fully signed and documented another very important part of the immigration and security deal with Mexico, one that the US has been asking about getting for many years.

"It will be revealed in the not too distant future and will need a vote by Mexico's legislative body," Mr Trump tweeted.

"We do not anticipate a problem with the vote but, if for any reason the approval is not forthcoming, tariffs will be reinstated."

Last month, Mr Trump threatened 5pc tariffs on Mexican goods to be imposed from yesterday. The duties would have increased every month until they reached 25pc in October, unless Mexico stopped illegal immigration across its border with the US.

On Friday, the tariffs were called off after the United States and Mexico announced an agreement on immigration. The joint communiqué issued by the two countries provided few details.

Critics have said there have been no new major commitments to slow the migration of Central Americans to the United States.

The agreement would expedite a programme known as the Migration Protection Protocols, which sends people seeking asylum in the United States to wait in Mexico as their cases are processed.

Announced in December, it would be expanded along the entire US-Mexico border under the terms of the agreement, according to the State Department.

The deal would also send the Mexican National Guard police force to its own southern border, where many Central Americans enter Mexico.

"We're very pleased with this agreement," White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said in an interview with Fox News. "It has an enforcement mechanism.

"It has an enforcement feature to it because these tariffs can go on at any time."

Marta Barcena Coqui, the Mexican ambassador to the United States, said in an interview with CBS's 'Face the Nation' on Sunday that Mexican officials had agreed to take steps to reduce illegal immigration "to previous levels that we had maybe last year or in 2018".

During the talks last week, Mexican sources said officials were resisting safe third country status, which would mean migrants seeking asylum would have to make such a request in the first safe country they crossed.

Under such safe third country status, that country for many Central American migrants fleeing poverty, violence and corruption in their native countries would be Mexico.

Such a change would require legal changes that would take at least 90 days and would need to be ratified by Mexico's Congress.

Yesterday, California looked poised to become the first state to offer government-provided healthcare to some immigrants who are in the country illegally.

State Democrats agreed that adults between the ages of 19 to 25 should have access to Medi-Cal, the state's low-income insurance programme.

The measure must still be approved by the full legislature and signed by the state's Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.

The $98m (€86.6m) plan aims to provide coverage to 100,000 people.

Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday Mr Trump had the backing of one of America's most notorious gangsters.

James 'Whitey' Bulger who ordered the murder of at least 19 people and spent more than two decades running one of America's most deadly crime gangs, is not someone most politicians would want an endorsement from. But the ruthless Boston crime lord was, it seems, a big supporter of Mr Trump.

He was murdered, aged 89, in prison last year but praised Mr Trump in a series of letters written from his cell. He called him a "man of the hour", and said he admired how he was "tough and fights back instead of bowing" to critics.

"He has," Bulger wrote, "my vote so far."

(© Independent and agencies)

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