AP, June 3, 2019
Mexico launched a counteroffensive Monday against the threat of U.S. tariffs, warning not only that it would hurt the economies of both countries but also could cause a quarter-million more Central Americans to migrate North.
A high-level delegation from the Mexican government held a press conference at the embassy in Washington, making the case against the threat by President Donald Trump of imposing a 5% tariff on Mexican imports by June 10.
But Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard replied Monday that both countries working together is “the best way to do it.”
Mexico said it will only go so far to avert the duties, and absolutely ruled out a “third safe country” agreement that would require asylum seekers to apply for refuge in Mexico first.
“There is a clear limit to what we can negotiate, and the limit is Mexican dignity,” said Mexico’s Ambassador to the United States, Martha Barcena.
Barcena said Mexico has taken steps to offer migrants visas in Mexico, and “without Mexico’s efforts an additional quarter-million migrants could arrive at the U.S. border in 2019.”
Barcena said Mexico has accepted 8,835 returned migrants as of May 29, and they are now waiting in the country for an asylum hearing in the U.S. courts.
Mexican Economy Minister Graciela Marquez plans talks with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Delegations led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard will also meet in Washington.
Marquez told reporters her team is assessing potential reprisals in case the diplomatic efforts do not bear fruit this week. “We will have to make a strategic plan to take into consideration many elements,” she said.