Mexico is considering a retaliatory tariff against the United States over delays at the border that it is blaming on the reassignment of agents from customs inspections to dealing with the dramatic rise in migrants seeking political asylum.
The Mexican government says that U.S. efforts to step up the number of agents focused on migrants showing up at the border has left customs checkpoints understaffed and drastically slowed trade.
“We cannot allow this kind of unilateral measure by the United States to affect us,” Mexico Foreign Trade Undersecretary Luz Maria de la Mora said, according to the Mexico News Daily.
De la Mora called the collision of trade and immigration issues between the U.S. and Mexico “an unfortunate blend.”
In late March, the U.S. government announced it was moving some personnel from ports of entry to help Border Patrol handle the influx of migrant families. Longer border crossing times resulted.
Mexico asked for a meeting of the 21st Century Border Executive Steering Committee, which includes officials from both governments, to discuss the issue.
In the first two months of 2019, Mexico became the United States' number one trading partner.
De la Mora said she hopes that ongoing conversations between U.S. and Mexican officials about trade and immigration will render a retaliatory move by Mexico unnecessary.
“What we want is that this is resolved quickly through dialogue and we believe that can be achieved,” the newspaper quoted her as saying.
Meanwhile, De la Mora said that Mexico is moving forward with retaliatory tariffs in response to the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum in Mexico. The Trump administration last year imposed a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent tariff on aluminum from some countries, including China, in March. It added Canada, Mexico and the European Union in June. The administration justified the tariffs by calling foreign steel and aluminum a threat to U.S. national security.
Earlier this month, President Trump vowed to slap tariffs on cars imported from Mexico if it failed to stem the illegal flow of people and narcotics.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.