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Mexico Could Tighten Migration Controls to Defuse Trump Tariffs Threat

Mexico's president suggested Saturday that his country could clamp down on migration

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Mexico, Migration, Trump, Tarrifs Threat
FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador answers questions from journalists at his daily press conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, March 8, 2019. VOA

Mexico’s president suggested Saturday that his country could clamp down on migration, and he said he thought the United States was ready to discuss its threatened use of tariffs as a means to combat illegal migration from Central America.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said at a Mexico City news conference that “there is willingness on the part of U.S. government officials to establish dialogue and reach agreement and compromises.”

His comments came ahead of talks in Washington next week, and Obrador said he said he expected “good results.” He added that Mexico was willing to “reinforce” existing “measures without violating human rights.”

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Friday that he began negotiating with U.S. officials after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on Mexican products related to the migrant surge at the border.

Mexico, Migration, Trump, Tarrifs Threat
FILE – President Donald Trump speaks about modernizing the immigration system in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, May 16, 2019. VOA

Ebrard said on Twitter that he had spoken to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by phone and said face-to-face talks between the two would take place Wednesday in Washington.

“We will be firm and defend the dignity of Mexico” at the talks, Ebrard said.

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Obrador also responded Friday to the U.S. tariff threats with caution, urging “dialogue” over “coercive measures.”

“I want to reiterate that we are not going to fall into any provocation. But we are going to be prudent, and we are going to respect the authorities of the United States and President Donald Trump,” Obrador said.

That statement followed a two-page letter to Trump made public late Thursday, similar in tone, responding to Trump’s announcement on Twitter earlier in the day that the United States would begin imposing an escalating tax on imports from Mexico.

“On June 10, the United States will impose a 5% Tariff on all goods coming into our Country from Mexico, until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP,” Trump tweeted. Until “the illegal immigration problem is remedied,” tariffs will continue to rise monthly, going as high as 25% by Oct. 1.

Mexico, Migration, Trump, Tarrifs Threat
FILE – Migrants are escorted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials after crossing illegally into the United States to request asylum, in El Paso, Texas, in this picture taken from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, April 3, 2019. VOA

U.S. border agents have apprehended an increasing number of people, largely from Central America, who crossed the southern U.S. border without authorization in recent months.

In contrast to previous spikes in arrivals, recent groups have included a large number of children, prompting U.S. officials to scramble to support families and children traveling without parents — some of whom are seeking asylum.

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In an indication of the pressing demands at the border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection solicited bids for the purchase of tens of thousands of diapers, baby wipes and bottles this past week, according to documents reviewed by VOA on a government contracting website.

Trump’s announcement of the new tariffs came on the same day Mexico began the formal process of ratifying the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on trade.

Mexico’s deputy foreign minister for North America, Jesus Seade, said such tariffs would be disastrous, expressing more alarm than the Mexican president.

“If this threat is carried out, it would be extremely serious,” he told reporters. “If this is put in place, we must respond vigorously.”

Mexico, Migration, Trump, Tarrifs Threat
FILE – President Donald Trump, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, and Mexico’s then-President Enrique Pena Nieto, left, participate in the USMCA signing ceremony, Nov. 30, 2018, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. VOA

For one trade expert, who previously served as Mexico’s ambassador to China — a top trading partner for that country and the U.S. — the timing of Trump’s tariff statement raised questions about the future of the USMCA.

“By mixing two things — immigration and now, just lately, drug flow, with trade — I think it confuses the issue,” said Jorge Guajardo, a senior director at the Washington-based international trade consulting firm McLarty Associates.

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The trade deal “was a triumph for all three countries, and now of course, that all comes into doubt,” Guajardo added.

Some Republican members of Congress but no Democrats were consulted about White House plan, according to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

Asked in a hastily arranged conference call with reporters about benchmarks Mexico would need to achieve to have the tariffs lifted, Mulvaney said there needed to be significant and substantial reductions in arrivals from Central America crossing into the United States.

“We’re going to take this and look at it on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis,” said Mulvaney. “We are interested in seeing the Mexican government act tonight, tomorrow.”

Trump has repeatedly accused Mexico of not doing enough to stop Central American migrants from traveling through the country on their way to the United States.

The U.S. system, however, is not infallible. While the country has increased its apprehension rate at the border in recent years, U.S. border agents stop an estimated 65% to 80% of people crossing into the country without authorization, according to a 2018 DHS report. (VOA)

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Trump EPA Finalizes Rollback of Key Obama Climate Rule that Targeted Coal Plants

The new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule gives America's 50 states three years to develop their own emissions reduction plans

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Trump, Obama, Climate
EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks with the media at the Environmental Protection Agency, June 19, 2019, in Washington. VOA

The Trump administration is rolling back rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the United States as scientists continue to warn countries to rapidly cut emissions to prevent the most drastic effects of climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday it had finalized rules to replace the Clean Power Plan, former President Barack Obama’s initiative to cut global warming emissions from coal plants.

The new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule gives America’s 50 states three years to develop their own emissions reduction plans by encouraging coal plants to improve their efficiency.

By contrast, the Clean Power Plan was designed to slash power plant carbon emissions by more than one-third from 2005 levels by 2030 by pushing utilities to replace coal with cleaner fuels like natural gas, solar and wind.

Trump, Obama, Climate
The Trump administration is rolling back rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. VOA

The Obama-era plan was never enacted, however, because of lawsuits filed by Republican states and hundreds of companies. The Supreme Court halted its enactment in February 2016.

“States will be given the flexibility to design a plan that best suits their citizens environmental and energy needs, according to a summary of the new rules,” according to a summary of the ruling.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said at a Washington news conference, “Our ACE rule will incentivize new technology which will ensure coal plants will be part of a cleaner future.”

But environmentalists, many Democratic lawmakers and some state attorneys general have labeled the new rules the “Dirty Power Plan,” maintaining they will lead to increases in carbon emissions and other pollutants over the next few decades.

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“At a time when Americans are urging us to take meaningful climate action and reduce our carbon footprint, today’s Dirty Power Plan is a failure of vision and leadership,” said Joe Goffman, executive director of Harvard University’s Environmental & Energy Law Program.

Even the EPA’s own regulatory analysis last year estimated Trump’s ACE rule would kill an additional 300 to 1,500 people each year by 2030 because of more air pollution from the U.S. power grid.

Trump has, nevertheless, dismissed scientific warnings on climate change, including a report this year from scientists at more than a dozen federal agencies noting that global warming from fossil fuels “presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life.”

Trump promised early in his presidency to kill the Clean Power Plan as part of an effort to revive the ailing coal industry, contending it exceeded the federal government’s authority.

Trump, Obama, Climate
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday it had finalized rules to replace the Clean Power Plan. Pixabay

Wednesday’s announcement to overturn Obama-era climate rules is part of a broader Trump administration effort to roll back “a multitude of health, safety environmental and consumer protections at the behest of corporate interests,” the non-profit consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen concluded in a report released in May.

The report said shortly after Trump took office in early 2017, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) sent the Trump administration a list of 132 regulations that “concerned” members and detailed their “preferred course of action to address its concerns on each of the regulations.”

The report concluded that “Regulatory agencies have granted or are working on granting 85 percent of the wishes related to rulemakings on a list of deregulatory demands submitted” by NAM.

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The new rule is expected to take effect within 30 days. (VOA)