Despite a Deal on Migration, a Tariff Threat Still Hangs Over Mexico

Jun 11, 2019 | 07:17 GMT

Cargo trucks line up a the Otay commercial crossing in Tijuana, Baja California, in Mexico.

Cargo truck drivers line up to cross to the United States at the Otay commercial crossing port in Tijuana, Baja California state, on June 6, 2019.



  • The threat that the U.S. will impose tariffs on Mexican imports is off the table for now, but Mexico must still satisfy Washington that it is fulfilling its agreement to curb illegal migration through its territory.
  • But politically motivated unrest in Honduras, as well as extensive criminal violence and persistent drought across northwestern Central America, will create ample incentives for people to risk an illegal crossing into Mexico, regardless of increased border security.
  • Though Mexico will try to secure its southern border with Guatemala, the plan could fail because it largely rests on the shoulders of the nascent National Guard and because of factors in Central America that could drive more migrants across the border.

An agreement by Mexico to step up its efforts to stem migration flows from Central America and into the United States has deflected the White House threat to impose tariffs of up to 25 percent on its exports. But uncertainty surrounding the plan to penalize Mexico for failing to hold up its end of the deal to U.S. President Donald Trump's satisfaction persists. And that uncertainty will have real effects on Mexico's bottom line, as well as on the Mexican administration's efforts to consolidate power. Details of the agreement with Mexico's government to curb illegal migration northward across the Mexico-Guatemala border include a commitment by the Mexican government to assign 6,000 National Guard troops to border enforcement duties. Those personnel would complement the thousands of federal police, soldiers and state police already performing those duties there. Mexico also agreed that migrants requesting asylum in the United States could be returned...

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