News ID: 254309
Published: 0208 GMT June 15, 2019

Mexico ready to retaliate if US imposes tariffs: Minister

Mexico ready to retaliate if US imposes tariffs: Minister
Mexico's Economy Minister Graciela Marquez attends a session with lawmakers and senators at the Senate building in Mexico City, Mexico, on June 14, 2019.

Mexico will be ready to retaliate in kind if the US government imposes tariffs on Mexican exports to the United States, Mexican Economy Minister Graciela Marquez said on Friday.

Speaking in Congress, Marquez said Mexico’s government would also initiate bilateral and multilateral procedures to defend its trade interests if the United States were to introduce tariffs, Reuters reported.

The US has doubled the number of asylum seekers it sends back each day to Mexico from El Paso, Texas, a Mexican immigration official said on Friday, in the first sign of action following a deal struck to avert US tariffs last week.

Luis Carlos Cano, a spokesman for Mexico’s national immigration agency in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, said starting Thursday some 200 asylum seekers per day were being sent back, up from 100 previously.

Under pressure from US President Donald Trump, Mexico agreed on June 7 to expand the program, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, or ‘Remain in Mexico,’ which forces mostly Central American asylum seekers arriving at the US southern border to await the outcome of their US asylum claims in Mexico.

Remain in Mexico currently operates in Tijuana, Mexicali and Ciudad Juarez. Close to 12,000 people have been returned to Mexico since it began in January.

However, Mexico has not accepted that the US send it an unlimited number of asylum seekers, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said, ahead of planned meetings with US officials on Friday to determine details of the expansion.

“Today there is a meeting with US authorities, to learn, to discuss the ports of entry and how the number will be measured, because Mexico has not accepted that it be undetermined,” Ebrard said at a news conference.

The agreement has put Mexican officials under mounting pressure to deliver results. The head of Mexico’s National Migration Institute, Tonatiuh Guillen, resigned on Friday for “personal reasons,” an Interior Ministry official said.

If enforcement measures are not successful after 45 days, Mexico has also agreed to consider making itself a “safe third country.” Asylum seekers who first set foot on Mexican soil would have to apply for refugee status in Mexico instead of in the United States.

Mexico’s government on Friday published the section of the joint accord which said Mexico would examine any changes to its legislation necessary to permit a safe third country arrangement to come into force 90 days after June 7.

Ebrard said this week that if Mexico could not stem the flow of people, a regional system should be established to bind in other countries crossed by migrants en route to the US, including Guatemala, Panama and Brazil.

A rights group in Guatemala on Friday lashed out at the proposal to make asylum seekers from Honduras and El Salvador seek refuge in Guatemala, when its own citizens were fleeing poverty and violence.

Trump confirmed the deal included the safe third country plan if Mexico did not do enough to cut migration.

Asked in a Fox News interview if that possibility was part of the accord, Trump said, “It’s exactly right, and that’s what’s going to happen.”


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