President Trump on Thursday abruptly announced a new 5 percent tariff on Mexico beginning in early June, saying the levy will "gradually increase" until the ongoing illegal immigration surge at the southern border is "remedied" and illegal migrants "STOP."
"On June 10th, 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 wrote. "The Tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied, … ..at which time the Tariffs will be removed. Details from the White House to follow."
The Washington Post reported earlier in the day that the Trump administration was considering the move, and that it had broad support in the White House — although some aides reportedly tried to talk Trump out of it.
“We are going to do something very dramatic on the border because people are coming into our country," Trump told reporters Thursday.
The International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 permits tariffs to be levied in the event of a national emergency originating from a foreign source. The situation could complicate the legislative passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), sent to Congress by the White House on Thursday, which aims broadly to limit tariffs among the three countries.
Vice President Mike Pence was in the Canadian capital of Ottawa on Thursday to build support for the USMCA. The U.S. recently lifted steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada that threatened to sink the arrangement, which was signed in November and seeks to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The news of the tariff came hours after Politico reported that an internal plan under consideration at the Department of Homeland Security effectively would block Central American migrants from bringing asylum claims, by prohibiting claims from applicants who resided in a country other than their own before seeking entry to the United States.
Arrests along the southern border have skyrocketed in recent months, with border agents making more than 100,000 arrests or denials of entry in March, a 12-year high. Immigration courts that process asylum claims currently have a backlog of more than 800,000 cases, and asylum applicants are increasingly staying in the U.S. even after their claims for asylum have been denied.
Customs and Border Protection said it apprehended or turned away more than 109,000 migrants attempting to cross the border in April, the second month in a row the number has topped 100,000.
This is a developing story; check back for updates.