WASHINGTON, June 8 — US President Donald Trump today 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 yesterday after three days of negotiations in Washington, averted Trump’s threatened imposition of 5 per cent 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 this morning.
Trump also said Mexico would immediately begin buying “large quantities” of agricultural goods from US 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, however, whether Mexico made such a pledge. There was no mention of expanded Mexican purchases of US agricultural products in the joint US - Mexican declaration outlining the immigration deal.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump, a Republican, has made stemming illegal immigration a signature issue of his presidency. He has been frustrated by a surge through Mexico of Central American migrants seeking asylum in the United States.
Under the new 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, mostly Central Americans.
Mexico also agreed to take stronger measures to stem illegal immigration to the United States, including deploying militarized National Guard forces on its southern border beginning on Monday.
US border officers detained more than 132,000 people crossing from Mexico in May, the highest level since 2006. Trump threatened to keep raising import duties on Mexican goods up to 25 per cent unless Mexico acted to stem what he has called an “invasion.”
But the threat angered business groups and even some Republican allies, who warned that a trade fight with Mexico would hurt the US economy and lobbied Trump’s administration to back down.
The deal announced yesterday did not include a US demand that Mexico accept a “safe third country” designation that would have forced it to permanently take in most Central American asylum seekers. — Reuters