Washington — Faulting the Mexican government for not doing enough to curb an unprecedented flow of Central American families heading toward the U.S., President Trump announced the U.S. will impose new tariffs on all goods imported from Mexico in an effort to pressure the government to take action.
In a statement from the White House on Thursday evening, Mr. Trump said a 5% tariff on imports will take effect June 10 and increase five percentage points every first of the month until October, when the levy would reach 25%.
"Tariffs will permanently remain at the 25 percent level unless and until Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory," he added.
The president said the tariffs would be lifted "if the illegal migration crisis is alleviated through effective actions taken by Mexico," which will "be determined in our sole discretion and judgment."
The move represents Mr. Trump's latest effort to curtail the large-scale migration of families and unaccompanied children from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to the U.S.-Mexico border, where border officials have been overwhelmed in recent months.
"Mexico's passive cooperation in allowing this mass incursion constitutes an emergency and extraordinary threat to the national security and economy of the United States," the president wrote in statement late Thursday.
Mr. Trump also said companies that relocate to the U.S. from Mexico would not be affected by the tariffs.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador responded in a public letter he posted on Twitter Thursday in which he alluded to the U.S. as a nation of immigrants. "The Statue of Liberty is not an empty symbol," he wrote.
López Obrador added that he will send his foreign relations secretary to Washington on Friday.
Some Republicans are already pushing back against the announcement of new tariffs.
"Trade policy and border security are separate issues. This is a misuse of presidential tariff authority and counter to congressional intent," Senate Financial Services Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said in a statement. Grassley has been critical of Mr. Trump's trade policies, as they have had an adverse effect on many of his constituent farmers in Iowa.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said that Mr. Trump's announcement demonstrated a "lack of understanding of the recklessness of his actions by threatening tariffs on Mexico."
"The President's threat is not rooted in wise trade policy but has more to do with bad immigration policy on his part," Pelosi said.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also condemned the tariffs.
"Imposing tariffs on goods from Mexico is exactly the wrong move. These tariffs will be paid by American families and businesses without doing a thing to solve the very real problems at the border," said Neil Bradley, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.