Mexico must act, White House says
Washington — A top White House official said Sunday that President Donald Trump is “deadly serious” about imposing tariffs on imports from Mexico, but acknowledged there are no concrete benchmarks being set to assess whether the U.S. ally is stemming the migrant flow enough to satisfy the administration.
“We intentionally left the declaration sort of ad hoc,” Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“So, there’s no specific target, there’s no specific percentage, but things have to get better,” Mulvaney said. “They have to get dramatically better and they have to get better quickly.”
He said the idea is to work with the Mexican government “to make sure that things did get better.”
On Monday, top officials from the two countries will start meetings in Washington. Mexican Economy Minister Graciela Marquez plans talks with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Two days later, delegations led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard will meet.
But Trump played down the effort. “Mexico is sending a big delegation to talk about the Border,” the president tweeted Sunday. “Problem is, they’ve been ‘talking’ for 25 years. We want action, not talk.”
The president said last week that he will impose a 5% tariff on Mexican goods on June 10 to pressure the government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to block Central American migrants from crossing the border into the U.S.
Trump said the import tax will increase by 5% every month through October, topping out at 25%.
But the president has been here before, issuing high-stakes threats over his frustration with the flow of migrants only to later back off. They include his threat earlier this year to seal the border with Mexico.
Republicans on Capitol Hill and allies in the business community have signaled serious unease with the tariffs that they warn will raise prices for consumers and hurt the economy. Some see this latest threat as a play for leverage and doubt Trump will follow through.