Thursday November 21, 2019
Home Lead Story Mexico Could ...

Mexico Could Tighten Migration Controls to Defuse Trump Tariffs Threat

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

0
//
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.

Also Read- Trump Turbulence Lags Momentum for North American Trade Deal

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.

Also Read- Tech Giant Google Faces Anti-trust Probe by US Justice Department

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.

Also Read- 1mn Computers Still Vulnerable to Microsoft Bug

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)

Next Story

Trump to Pursue Higher Sales Age for Vaping Devices: ‘An Age Limit of 21 or So’

Trump told reporters his administration will release its final plans for restricting e-cigarettes next week but provided few other details

0
Trump, Sales, Vaping
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Nov. 8, 2019. VOA

President Donald Trump said Friday his administration will pursue raising the age to purchase electronic cigarettes from 18 to 21 in its upcoming plans to combat youth vaping.

Trump told reporters his administration will release its final plans for restricting e-cigarettes next week but provided few other details.

“We have to take care of our kids, most importantly, so we’re going to have an age limit of 21 or so,” said Trump, speaking outside the White House.

Currently the minimum age to purchase any tobacco or vaping product is 18, under federal law. But more than one-third of U.S. states have already raised their sales age to 21.

Trump, Sales, Vaping
FILE – A woman buys refills for her Juul at a smoke shop in New York, Dec. 20, 2018. VOA

A federal law raising the purchase age would require congressional action.

Administration officials were widely expected to release plans this week for removing virtually all flavored e-cigarettes from the market. Those products are blamed for soaring rates of underage use by U.S. teenagers.

However, no details have yet appeared, leading vaping critics to worry that the administration is backing away from its original plan.

Trump resisted any specifics on the scope of the restrictions.

Also Read- US Officials Identify ‘Strong Culprit’ in Vaping Illnesses

“We’re talking about the age, we’re talking about flavors, we’re also talking about keeping people working — there are some pretty good aspects,” Trump said.

Mint flavor

Underage vaping has reached what health officials call epidemic levels. In the latest government survey, 1 in 4 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the previous month.

Fruit, candy, dessert and other sweet vaping flavors have been targeted because of their appeal to underage users.

Trump, Sales, Vaping
FILE – A man blows a puff of smoke as he vapes with an electronic cigarette, Oct. 18, 2019. VOA

On Thursday, Juul Labs, the nation’s largest e-cigarette maker, announced it would voluntarily pull its mint-flavored e-cigarettes from the market. That decision followed new research that Juul’s mint is the top choice for many high school students who vape.

With the removal of mint, Juul only sells two flavors: tobacco and menthol.

Vaping critics say menthol must be a part of the flavor ban to prevent teens who currently use mint from switching over.

‘Tobacco 21’ law

Also Read- Nobody Takes Serious Speeches of Movie Stars Seriously, Says Bollywood Star Shah Rukh Khan

Juul and other tobacco companies have lobbied in support of a federal “Tobacco 21” law to reverse teen use of both e-cigarettes and traditional tobacco products. The effort also has broad bipartisan support in Congress, including a bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The logic for hiking the purchase age for cigarettes and other products is clear: Most underage teens who use e-cigarettes or tobacco get it from older friends. Raising the minimum age to 21 is expected to limit the supply of those products in U.S. schools.

Delaying access to cigarettes is also expected to produce major downstream health benefits, with one government-funded report estimating nearly 250,000 fewer deaths due to tobacco over several decades.

Still, anti-tobacco groups have insisted that any “Tobacco 21” law must be accompanied by a ban on flavors, which they say are the primary reason young people use e-cigarettes. (VOA)