Trump: Progress with Mexico Talks ‘Not Nearly Enough’

By Holly Kellum

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump said progress was being made in talks with Mexico about stopping illegal immigration to the U.S. border, but “not nearly enough,” after the first day of talks with Mexico at the White House.

Shortly before 7 p.m. on June 5 he tweeted that the talks had ended for the day but that more talks were scheduled for June 6.

He said in a press conference June 4 that he expected to start putting tariffs on Mexican goods starting June 10 unless more migrants traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border from Central America were interdicted by Mexico.

“I think it’s more likely that the tariffs go on,” he said at press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May in London.

He sounded more optimistic the tariffs could be avoided on June 5, saying Mexico is starting to take his demands seriously.

“I think they want to do something. They’re sending their top people,” he said during a visit with the Irish Prime Minister in Ireland.

Those top people were Mexico’s foreign minister and ambassador to the United States, who were set to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House.

If they don’t reach a deal, the White House is planning a 5 percent tariff on all goods from Mexico starting June 10. Those tariffs are set to increase by 5 percent each month till they reach 25 percent Oct. 1, where they will remain until “the illegal immigration problem is remedied,” Trump said in a tweet.

What “remedied” means will be decided by the White House.

“If the illegal migration crisis is alleviated through effective actions taken by Mexico, to be determined in our sole discretion and judgment, the Tariffs will be removed,” Trump said in a May 30 statement.

He said Democrats have forced him to take action against Mexico because they aren’t willing to fix the U.S. immigration laws that are fueling the immigration crisis.

“Border arrests for May are at 133,000 because of Mexico & the Democrats in Congress refusing to budge on immigration reform,” he tweeted.

Mexico’s foreign minister said yesterday he thought there was a good chance the tariffs could be avoided, and said they didn’t have any counter tariffs planned.

“The greatest percentage that I see from what we have heard in these [past] days of work is that we will be able to reach a negotiation,” Marcelo Ebrard said at a press conference in Washington on June 4.

Mexico’s Ambassador to the U.S., Martha Barcena, agreed, but said that there are limits to what they can negotiate.

“And that limit is Mexican dignity,” she said at the same press conference.

Trump is facing pressure from Congress to move away from tariffs because of the impact they could have on the U.S. economy. He is also facing pushback from Republicans, although it’s not clear yet if there are enough to block the tariffs outright.

Trump, however, sounded unconcerned June 4 when asked about Congressional Republicans possibly blocking him.

“I don’t think they will do that. I think if they do, it’s foolish. There’s nothing more important than borders,” he said.

Customs and Border Protection recently released the number of migrants illegally crossing the border in May, showing a 13-year high of 144,278.

“We need to work with Mexico on this problem,” Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told The Hill.

He said that at any given time, there are 100,000 migrants transiting through Mexico on their way to the U.S. border.

“This is a very overt movement. It uses commercial bus lines. These are organized criminal organizations that are smuggling humans,” he said. “In Chiapas, there’s about a 150-mile stretch where most of these crossings occur between Guatemala and Mexico. We need them to interdict these folks at the point of origin crossing their border.”