International

Trump confident Mexico will enforce new deal

Washington, Jun 9 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 6/9/2019 12:26:13 PM IST

US President Donald Trump on Saturday predicted Mexico would strongly enforce a new deal under which it agreed to expand a controversial asylum program and boost security on its southern border to stem Central American migrants trying to reach the United States.

The deal, announced on Friday after three days of negotiations in Washington, averted Trump’s threatened imposition of 5% import tariffs on all Mexican goods starting on Monday.

“Mexico will try very hard, and if they do that, this will be a very successful agreement between the United States and Mexico,” Trump wrote in a tweet on Saturday morning.

The Trump administration believed the deal would “fix the immigration issue,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday in a Reuters interview on the sidelines of a G20 finance meeting in Fukuoka, Japan. Mnuchin warned, however, that Trump retained the authority to impose tariffs if Mexico failed to enforce the new agreement.

Trump also tweeted on Saturday that Mexico would immediately begin buying “large quantities” of agricultural goods from U.S. farmers, who have been hit hard by his trade war with China and risked a new blow from Mexican retaliation if Trump had imposed tariffs.

It was not immediately clear whether Mexico made such a pledge. There was no mention of expanded Mexican purchases of U.S. agricultural products in the joint U.S.-Mexican declaration outlining the immigration deal.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said later on Saturday that he spoke with Trump and offered him friendly ties and a commitment to dialogue.

Trump, a Republican, has made stemming illegal immigration a signature issue of his presidency, vowing to build a wall on the border, although Congress has refused to fund that measure. He has been frustrated by a surge through Mexico of Central American migrants seeking asylum in the United States, and has repeatedly blamed migrants who have entered the country through Mexico for crime and illegal drugs.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer reacted with sarcasm about the agreement late on Friday. “This is a historic night!” Schumer wrote on Twitter. “Now that the problem is solved, I’m sure we won’t be hearing any more about it in the future.”

Under the deal, Mexico agreed to the immediate expansion along the entire border of a program under which the United States returns asylum-seeking migrants to Mexico to await adjudication of their cases. The program, commonly known as Remain in Mexico, has been operating since January in the border cities of Tijuana, Mexicali and Ciudad Juarez.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other rights groups are pursuing a legal challenge to the program, which has returned to Mexico more than 10,390 people.

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