June 7 (UPI) — President Donald Trump on Friday announced a breakthrough in negotiations with Mexico to forgo tariffs expected to go into effect next week.
The two countries reached a deal to skip the 5 percent tariffs and stem an influx of Central American migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexican border illegally.
“I am pleased to inform you that the United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico. The tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended,” Trump tweeted.
“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.”
Trump said the State Department will release details of the agreement “shortly.”
Trump announced the tariff’s last week, saying Mexico will have to pay extra for exports unless it does more to slow the flow of illegal immigration into the United States. U.S. and Mexican officials have been in negotiations this week to avoid the tariffs.
“If we are able to make the deal with Mexico, and there is a good chance that we will, they will begin purchasing farm and agricultural products at very high levels, starting immediately,” Trump tweeted Friday afternoon. “If we are unable to make the deal, Mexico will begin paying tariffs at the 5 percent level on Monday!”
Though Trump’s tweet hinted at a possible agreement, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said tariffs will go into effect Monday.
“Our position hasn’t changed,” she told reporters on Air Force One in Ireland.
“They’ve made a lot of progress,” she said of negotiators. “The meetings have gone well but as of now we’re still on track for tariffs on Monday.”
The threat of tariffs comes as Mexico plans to deploy 6,000 troops near its southeastern border with Guatemala to stem the flow of migrants.
Trump faced accusations earlier this week from Democrats who said he wouldn’t follow through. To that, Trump tweeted: “No bluff!”
A sticking point for the negotiations remains what to do with the migrants who are fleeing poverty and gang violence in Central America. The Trump administration wants Mexico to become a safe third-party country so it can claim the migrants rather than have them pass through on the way to the United States.
That would give U.S. officials the authority to turn asylum seekers away rather than accepting them into the country. Vice President Mike Pence said in addition to improved internal enforcement, “there would have to be new understandings between the United States and Mexico.”
But immigration advocates have said Mexico isn’t safe for vulnerable migrants. A survey of migrant mothers detained in Mexico found 90 percent didn’t feel safe. Nearly half of the 500 women said they had been robbed, sexually assaulted, threatened or subject to other dangers.