Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he is imposing a 5 percent tariff on all goods coming from Mexico in order to stop undocumented immigrants from coming across the U.S.-Mexico border. The president also said that the tariff would continually increase until the issue at the border was resolved.
As with many of his announcements, the news was revealed on Twitter.
“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. The Tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied,” he wrote. “At which time the Tariffs will be removed. Details from the White House to follow,” he concluded in a second tweet.
Shortly after the tweets were sent, a statement was issued by the White House clarifying that the tariffs would go into effect on June 10 and increase on July 1 to 10 percent. If the “crisis persists” at that point, the tariff will go up 5 percent each month for three more months, according to The New York Times.
“Tariffs will permanently remain at the 25 percent level unless and until Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory,” the statement read.
While previous administrations have attempted to pressure Mexico to help stop the number of migrants crossing their northern border, the move is a significant step that many are criticizing as an attack on an important American ally. If Mexico doesn’t capitulate to the president’s demands, it could wreak economic havoc in both the U.S. and Mexico.
This is especially true since Mexico is one of the United States’ biggest trading partners. The U.S. took in $346.5 billion in goods from the country last year alone. A 5 percent tax on those goods would have equaled $17 billion.
The announcement could also jeopardize Trump’s goal of revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement. The White House has been seeking approval from Congress to create a new trade pact that would preserve the current low tariff deal on the table, and Trump had agreed to lift all tariffs on steel and aluminum in order to hasten the deal.
The White House hasn’t specified what action it would like to see on Mexico’s part to satisfy its requirement. Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, said that the number of migrants crossing the border would need to be “substantially” reduced, but that they would judge things on a day-to-day basis.