By Damian Paletta , Damian Paletta Reporter covering economic policy Email Bio Follow
In a letter sent Thursday evening, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador addressed Trump in harsh terms, a marked change from the diplomatic posture he has tried to adopt since being elected last July. “President Trump, social problems can’t be resolved through taxes or coercive measures,” López Obrador wrote.
He said he would send his foreign minister to Washington on Friday “to arrive at an agreement that benefits both nations.”
But even as López Obrador suggested that there was a diplomatic solution, he unloaded on Trump for his administration’s immigration policy.
“How did a country of fraternity for all the migrants in the world become, from night to dawn, a ghetto, a closed space,” where migrants are stigmatized and mistreated, López Obrador wrote. He went on: “The statue of liberty is not an empty symbol.”
A view of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua State, on May 20. About 7,000 migrants are waiting to enter the United States via El Paso. (Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images)
Trump has often tried to use tariffs and other import penalties as a way to pressure countries into changing behavior, but he has not yet done it on such a scale. In addition, he wrongly has said the cost of tariffs are shouldered by the countries that he targets.
The new tariff threat combines two of Trump’s favorite issues — immigration and trade — and comes as he has struggled to score victories on either one.
A central element of Trump’s campaign was his assertion that the United States was being “invaded” by people across the Mexico border, a sentiment that resonated with many supporters. He has tried to rework trade rules and build a wall to stop the flow of migrants, but so far his efforts have failed to stem the surge of people crossing the border. Crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border, driven by Central American migrants seeking asylum, have peaked to their highest level in more than a decade.
López Obrador campaigned last year on a promise to decriminalize migration and told audiences it was not Mexico’s job to assist the United States with the “dirty work” of deportations.
U.S. officials say corrupt Mexican officials are allowing the buses to pass through highway checkpoints and in other cases facilitating their travel to the border by providing security escorts.
Mexican officials have said they’re doing everything they can to regulate the migration surge, and they provide police escorts in some cases to prevent criminal organizations from kidnapping and extorting families traveling with small children.
Source: The Washington Post