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US & Mexico reach signed agreement, tariffs 'indefinitely suspended'

US & Mexico reach signed agreement, tariffs 'indefinitely suspended'
US President Donald Trump says a deal has been struck with Mexico to stem the flow of migrants into the US. Punitive tariffs on Mexican goods that were due to come into effect Monday have been “suspended indefinitely.”

“I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico,” Trump tweeted Friday.


He said that the agreement would allow the US to “greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States,” without providing details.

A high-ranking Mexican delegation arrived in the US on Wednesday to thrash out an agreement after Trump threatened to impose tariffs on all Mexican goods, starting at five percent. He called Mexico an “abuser” of the US for its supposed reluctance to stop caravans of illegal migrants streaming to the US-Mexican border.

Trump repeatedly said that the US would follow through with the threat unless a deal is reached by Monday. The tariffs were supposed to increase by five percent each month until the binding document is signed, ultimately soaring to 25 percent in October.

Mexico, which initially said it would retaliate against Washington’s threats of new levies, appears to have quickly capitulated, striking a conciliatory tone and cracking down on Central American migrants travelling through its territory to the US. On Thursday, the Mexican government announced that it would freeze two dozen bank accounts allegedly linked to illegal migrants, and unveiled plans to beef up security at its southern border.

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Just earlier in the day, the chances of clinching a deal before the weekend seemed slim. Marc Short, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, who led the US delegation at the talks, said Mexico’s proposals were “insufficient.”

Martha Barcena Coqui, the Mexican ambassador to the US, tweeted that the agreement was reached after a grueling 12-hour discussion on Friday and would see Mexico strengthen the implementation of its own migration laws. The diplomat said that Mexico pledged to provide employment, education, and health care for migrants stranded in Mexico as they wait for the processing of their asylum applications in the US. Mexico and the US would also step up cooperation aimed at development of southern Mexico and Central America.

The parties signed a joint declaration that outlines measures Mexico pledged to take to curb the flow of migrants, including deploying its National Guard to its own southern border and taking back migrants who have already crossed into the US and await the processing of their applications there.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told a press conference that National Guard troops would be sent to the southern border with Guatemala starting Monday. The number of migrants to be returned to Mexico under the deal has not yet been agreed upon.

According to the document, the countries will proceed with discussions during the next 90 days.

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While Mexico has, in general, complied with the US' demands, it has not agreed to take back Guatemalan migrants who had already crossed into the US, Ebrard said. Mexico also rejected the proposal to return asylum seekers from El Salvador and Honduras to Guatemala. The implementation of that rule would have forced migrants to seek asylum in the first country they entered from their homeland.

By caving in to the US' demands, Mexico handed Trump his first tentative success in his crusade against illegal arrivals. Uprooting illegal migration was one of the main promises of Trump's election campaign, but its fulfillment has been bogged down by political infighting after Democrats reclaimed the House in January. The Trump administration has so far been unsuccessful in banning sanctuary cities, facing staunch opposition from Democratic governors. While it has secured funding for the border wall, Trump had to declare a national emergency to do so, and the project remains mired in numerous lawsuits. Another unexpected setback to Trump's plans came from the Transportation Security Administration after it was revealed that it has been allowing illegal immigrants to fly without proper ID papers for months.

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