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Washington ‘encouraged’ by Mexican migrant clampdown, but will move ahead with tariff plan

Washington ‘encouraged’ by Mexican migrant clampdown, but will move ahead with tariff plan
US officials are pleased with the Mexican government’s recent moves to curb the flow of migrants through the country to the American border. However, negotiations are ongoing, and a tariff deadline still looms.

With his efforts to beef up the security of the US’ southern border largely stalled, President Donald Trump has sought to curb illegal immigration indirectly. The White House is currently locked into negotiations with the Mexican government, and Trump has threatened Mexico with escalating tariffs if Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador fails to tackle illegal border crossings.

Also on rt.com Trump says 'not nearly enough' progress in Mexico-US talks, tariffs due next week if no deal

"Yesterday they came back I think very open to those recommendations and so we're very encouraged as to where the negotiations are going," Marc Short, an aide to US Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News on Friday. “But there frankly is still a long way to go.”

Delegations from both sides are due to sit down to further negotiations later on Friday, and a 5 percent tariff will be applied to Mexican imports if a deal is not struck by Monday. The rate will increase every month without a deal, up to a maximum 25 percent by October.

Short said that as of now, Mexico’s proposals are “insufficient,” and tariffs will likely come into effect. However, the aide added that the planned levies could be reversed “over the weekend” if progress is made.

While Obrador initially promised to respond “vigorously” to Trump’s tariff threat, the Mexican leader has since softened his tone, and announced on Thursday that he would hold a “unity rally” in the border city of Tijuana on Saturday, “in favor of friendship with the people of the United States.” Obrador also announced the arrest of two immigration activists, while Interior Minister Olga Sanchez announced a tightening on border security, and the Finance Ministry said it would freeze 26 bank accounts of suspected human traffickers.

The showdown over the US/Mexican border comes following a record spike in illegal border crossings. US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) revealed on Wednesday that 144,000 illegal immigrants were detained or turned away in the month of May, triple the number from May 2018, a sevenfold increase on May 2017, and a more than 12 year high.

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