Mexico must stop ‘migrant invasion’ of US, says Trump - GulfToday

Mexico must stop ‘migrant invasion’ of US, says Trump


Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump told Mexico to stop the “invasion” and “onslaught” of migrants entering the United States illegally, or face rising US import tariffs which would cause the loss of foreign investment.

“Mexico should step up and stop this onslaught, this invasion into our country,” Trump said during a news conference in London on Tuesday.

Separately, the Trump administration banned group educational travel to Cuba on Tuesday, cutting off one of the main avenues for Americans to visit the Caribbean island.

In a move to punish what it called Cuba’s “destabilising role” in the region, the US Treasury also banned the US export of boats and private airplanes to the country.

“Cuba continues to play a destabilising role in the Western hemisphere, providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up US adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law, and suppressing democratic processes,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

“This administration has made a strategic decision to reverse the loosening of sanctions and other restrictions on the Cuban regime. These actions will help to keep US dollars out of the hands of Cuban military, intelligence, and security services.”

The Treasury move banned “group people-to-people educational travel,” a structure that allowed travel agencies to organize regular American tourists into “educational groups” who, on their visit to Cuba, would spend a certain amount of time in exchanges with Cubans.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday said he expects to reach a deal with the United States over immigration before Washington carries out its threat to enact punitive tariffs.

Lopez Obrador said he was optimistic. “There are signs that it matters to the US officials that there’s a deal,” he told his regular morning news conference.

Mexico said on Monday it would reject a US idea to take in all Central American asylum seekers if it is raised at talks this week with the Trump administration.

The threat roiled global markets, already being hit by a trade war between the United States and China. The price of oil fell on Monday as US trade disputes with the two countries deepened concerns about weakening global crude demand.

Mexican Economy Minister Graciela Marquez said in a statement that the tariffs would affect all 50 US states and harm value chains, consumers and trade-related jobs in both countries.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said the country was committed to continuing to work to keep migrants from Central America from reaching the US border.

He said, however, that a proposal favored by some US officials to designate Mexico a “safe third country,” which would force Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States to apply for it instead in Mexico, was not an option.

“An agreement about a safe third country would not be acceptable for Mexico,” Ebrard told reporters in Washington. “They have not yet proposed it to me. But it would not be acceptable and they know it.”

Ebrard will meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the talks, which will also involve other senior officials.

The negotiations in Washington will be closely watched by financial markets concerned that import tariffs would ultimately hit the US economy by adding to the cost of a wide range of goods in the United States, from Mexican-made cars and auto parts to televisions, beer and food.

Mexican Agriculture Minister Victor Villalobos said in a statement the proposed tariffs would cause economic damage to the agriculture sector of $117 million a month in both countries. He did not specify at what level of tariffs that damage would occur.

Mexican trade officials said last week that they would retaliate if the tariffs were imposed, although they did not provide details on what the response would be.

US-based Mexican-themed fast-food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc estimated a $15 million hit from the proposed tariffs, and said it could cover that by raising its burrito prices by around 5 cents.

US business groups have opposed the tariff plan and the US Chamber of Commerce is looking at ways to challenge it, including legal options.