President Trump tweeted late Friday that a deal had been signed with Mexico to avoid tariffs that were set to start Monday. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo more formally announced the agreement shortly thereafter.
The announcement avoids what economists and Republicans feared would be damaging to the U.S. economy. According to Mexico’s foreign minister, the agreement calls for Mexico to deploy its national guard throughout the country, as well as allow migrants to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are adjudicated. The agreement also calls for Mexico to offer jobs, health care and education.
“I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico,” the president tweeted Friday night. “The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended. Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures to…stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border. This is being done to greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States. Details of the agreement will be released shortly by the State Department. Thank you!”
Pompeo followed the president’s tweet with a statement.
“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,” Pompeo said. “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.”
The agreement leaves open the possibility that the deal could be altered if progress is not considered sufficient. “Both parties also agree that, in the event the measures adopted do not have the expected results, they will take further actions,” the agreement says.
Under the agreement, the U.S. will also “immediately” expand its Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the remain-in-Mexico policy, which was started at the end of January. Individuals who are trying to come to the U.S. to seek asylum are to be returned to Mexico to wait for their asylum claims to be heard in court. Mexico says that it will offer jobs, healthcare and education to the asylum-seekers.
In a series of tweets Saturday morning, Mr. Trump continued to defend his last-minute decision not to implement tariffs, blaming the media for perceived negative reporting.
“While the reviews and reporting on our Border Immigration Agreement with Mexico have been very good, there has nevertheless been much false reporting (surprise!) by the Fake and Corrupt News Media, such as Comcast/NBC, CNN, @nytimes & @washingtonpost. These “Fakers” are Bad News!” Mr. Trump claimed without evidence.
He also wrote, in all capitalization, that “MEXICO HAS AGREED TO IMMEDIATELY BEGIN BUYING LARGE QUANTITIES OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT FROM OUR GREAT PATRIOT FARMERS!”
Mr. Trump had faced some strong criticism from Republicans who represent states with large farming populations, such as Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa. Ernst said in a statement Friday night that “Iowans are breathing a sigh of relief” now that the tariffs were not going into effect. It was unclear whether there were enough votes to block the tariffs from going into effect in Congress.
A tariff deal also had not seemed certain. The White House did not publicly identify what targets Mexico needed to meet, and said Mexico wasn’t offering enough to curb illegal immigration. Top White House officials had insisted the tariffs were imminent if Mexico didn’t drastically crack down on the flow of migrants.
Mr. Trump appeared to muddy the waters even more Friday afternoon while tweeting from Air Force One that Mexico would buy more agricultural products from the U.S. — even though the White House insisted the proposed tariffs were about immigration, not trade.
“If we are able to make the deal with Mexico, & there is a good chance that we will, they will begin purchasing Farm & Agricultural products at very high levels, starting immediately,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “If we are unable to make the deal, Mexico will begin paying Tariffs at the 5% level on Monday!”
For months, Mr. Trump has vocalized his frustration over illegal immigration levels and sought ways to stem the tide of migrants, as he attempts to keep his campaign promise to build a border wall and handle illegal immigration more effectively than his predecessors. But those attempts have been fraught with hurdles, both legal and political, with the 2020 presidential election just around the corner.
On Friday night, Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer mockingly tweeted it was a “historic night” and “Now that that problem is solved, I’m sure we won’t be hearing any more about it in the future.”
In December, Mr. Trump’s insistence on border wall funding led to the longest government shutdown on record, but the president ultimately gave in when the impacts of the shutdown became visible.