Mexican President Calls for Rally in Tijuana as Tariffs Loom

June 6, 2019 Updated: June 6, 2019

Amid impending U.S. tariffs over border security, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is calling for a rally in Tijuana on June 8.

“I am calling upon the people of Mexico, all sectors of all social classes, of all cultures, for a rally of unity in defense of the dignity of Mexico and in favor of friendship with the people of the United States,” AMLO said during a press conference on June 6.

“With all due respect, although you have the sovereign right to express it, the ‘America First’ slogan is a fallacy, because until the end of time, even beyond national borders, universal justice and fraternity will prevail,” AMLO said in an open letter on May 30.

AMLO said he intends to announce his proposal to solve the immigration issue on June 8.

The rally cry came as negotiations between the two countries entered their second day in Washington after the Trump administration said it would enact a 5 percent tariff on all goods coming from Mexico, starting June 10, if Mexico doesn’t stop the surge of illegal immigration. Trump said he will increase tariffs by 5 percentage points each month, up to 25 percent, if Mexico doesn’t adequately step up.

President Donald Trump said June 5 that the initial day of talks didn’t get far enough. “Progress is being made, but not nearly enough!” Trump wrote on Twitter. “ Mexico should step up and stop this onslaught, this invasion into our country,” he told reporters.

Vice President Mike Pence echoed the president’s comments, saying on June 6, “We welcomed the efforts of the Mexican officials to offer solutions to the crisis at our southern border, but we need Mexico to do more.

“The time has come for Mexico to do more to stem the tide of illegal immigrants that are making their way north from Central America through Mexico and coming into our country,” Pence said.

The U.S. imported $346.1 billion in goods from Mexico in 2018. A 5 percent tariff on those goods would translate to a $17.3 billion potential increase in costs for U.S. businesses and consumers.

Meanwhile, Customs and Border Protection announced another record-breaking month in border crossings for the month of May. Border Patrol apprehended almost 133,000 illegal immigrants, while another 11,000 presented themselves at ports of entry without the requisite paperwork.

The busiest sector along the southern border, the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, is holding more than 8,000 illegal aliens in facilities that are built for 3,363 capacity. In May, agents in the sector apprehended almost 50,000 illegal immigrants.

Other top Mexican officials have been less diplomatic than AMLO.

Mexican Senator Félix Salgado Macedonio wrote on Twitter on May 31 that “Mexicans are in our territory (California, Nevada, Texas, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Wyoming). We are going to recover our territory that was stolen.” He opened his tweet with a disparaging remark about Trump’s hair.

Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard, and Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, Martha Bárcena, issued a statement on June 3, threatening even greater illegal immigration if tariffs are imposed.

“If the regrettable imposition of tariffs were to be implemented, migratory flows would be even more numerous,” the statement said. It went on to tout the number of migrants Mexico has returned to Central America (80,537) in the past five months.

“In line with our humanitarian vision, and in accordance with international law, we have received 24,541 refugee applications, as well as 8,835 migrants returned from the United States who carry out their migratory process before U.S. courts while waiting in Mexican territory,” the statement said. “In addition, about 18,778 people are waiting at a border port of entry, still in Mexican territory, to file asylum applications with the United States.”

Although Mexico issues thousands of humanitarian visas and offers refugee status to Central Americans, most still aim to get into the United States.

Mexico signed the United Nations Global Compact for Migration in December last year, in which member countries commit to a “collective commitment to improving cooperation on international migration.” The United States, and another 28 countries, refused to sign the non-binding agreement, with the former saying parts of the compact clashed with “U.S. immigration and refugee policies.”

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