President Donald Trump said Friday night that he would not go forward with his threat to slap new tariffs on imports from Mexico starting on Monday, as the State Department said the two countries had reached an agreement on ways to slow the recent rush of migrants trying to make it across the southern border and into the United States.
"We would like to thank Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard for his hard work to negotiate a set of joint obligations that benefit both the United States and Mexico," said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a written statement.
"The United States looks forward to working alongside Mexico to fulfill these commitments so that we can stem the tide of illegal migration across our southern border and to make our border strong and secure," Pompeo added.
There were two main concessions by Mexico - first, the Mexicans will toughen enforcement along its own southern border, to deter the transit of Central Americans trying to make the long trek to the United States.
Secondly, Mexico has agreed to allow the U.S. to send people back across the border - after they have asked for asylum - and wait in Mexico while that asylum claim is reviewed, instead of being allowed to stay in the United States.
The details of the agreement issued by the State Department centered on several points:
+ An enforcement "surge" by the Mexican government along its southern border.
+ New protocols allowing the U.S. to immediately return people to Mexico where they would await the processing of any asylum claim.
+ Regional efforts to help spur economic growth and development in Central America, to dissuade people from trying to illegally reach the United States.
"Mexico will take unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration, to include the deployment of its National Guard throughout Mexico, giving priority to its southern border," read a joint statement issued by the State Department on Friday night.
The agreement says the Mexican government will also take "decisive action" against human smuggling organizations to stop those profiting from the trek to the U.S. border.
The deal also includes a provision to review the details of the agreement within 90 days - if there's no improvement in the immigration situation.
In Congress, GOP lawmakers were pleased the threat of tariffs had been removed.
"Great news for Iowa farmers, and great news for our nation!" said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), one of many GOP Senators who had expressed concerns about possible tariffs on Mexican imports, worried they would be met with retaliatory trade measures against U.S. goods and farm products.
"No tariffs on Mexico. Mexico came through," said Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA).
“Once again, President Trump has proven those who doubted him wrong by getting Mexico to step up their efforts to help us secure our southern border,” said Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA).
“I commend the President for working with the Mexican government to reach an agreement to stem the flow of people coming across our southern border from Central America,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). “This agreement avoids tariffs going up on both sides, which would hurt our economy.”
“The Mexican government has pledged to do more than Congressional Ds to address this crisis,” tweeted Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), as Republicans kept up public pressure on Democrats to allow for changes in immigration laws to stop a recent surge in migrants.
The response from one top Democrat was somewhat snarky.
“Now that that problem is solved, I’m sure we won’t be hearing any more about it in the future,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.
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