US, Mexico Continue Tariff Talks as Mexico Adds More Troops Along Border

June 6, 2019 Updated: June 6, 2019

In continued tariff talks between U.S. and Mexican officials in Washington on June 6, Mexico offered to send up to 6,000 members of its national guard to secure its southern border with Guatemala, in a bid to curb the rising influx of illegal immigrants, the Washington Post first reported.

The Mexican Finance Ministry on the same day also said they blocked the bank accounts of 26 people for their alleged involvement in human trafficking. In a statement, the ministry’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) said it froze the accounts due to “probable links with human trafficking and illegal aid to migrant caravans.”

The two countries had met earlier on June 5 for discussions led by Vice President Mike Pence in Washington. Pence on the morning of June 6 told reporters that Mexico needs to do more to address the illegal immigration situation, though he noted that the previous talks were positive overall.

“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,” he said before departing on an Air Force Two.

Pence said that in the meeting they made clear that President Donald Trump is going to continue to stand firm until the illegal immigration crisis is brought to an end. Trump could not attend the negotiations as he was in Europe commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings. Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were also unable to attend the June 6 discussions.

The Secretary of State’s team, as well as White House officials, will be meeting with the Mexican delegation on June 6, Pence noted. The department did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

“Our message to the Mexican delegation and our message to the Mexican government is the time has come for Mexico to act decisively to work with the United States of America to assist us in enforcing our laws by enforcing their laws, by securing their border,” Pence told reporters.

The Vice President said as the discussions continued on, he hoped that Mexico will “step up” to take more decisive action, and painted the surge of illegal aliens entering the United States as a “real humanitarian and security crisis.”

Mexican officials attempted to increase efforts to halt the flow of Central American migrants crossing the border into the United States, with Mexican soldiers, armed police, and migration officials blocking migrants along its own southern border.

Meanwhile, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told reporters that he hoped a deal could be reached.

“The U.S. authorities have behaved very well, (including) President Trump, because they haven’t closed themselves off to dialogue…” Obrador told a news conference on June 6.

It’s unclear yet whether the recent sharpening of Mexico’s response to the border crisis was enough to secure a deal. Trump has made curbing illegal immigration a signature part of his presidency and campaign.

On June 5, Trump commented on the immigration discussion led by Pence at the time and noted, “Progress is being made, but not nearly enough.”

Trump expanded on his previous comments while in Shannon, Ireland, on June 6 and said that Mexico was continuing to profit at the expense of the United States.

“We have to make a lot of progress,” he told reporters. “Mexico’s been making for many, many years hundreds of billions of dollars. They’ve been making an absolute fortune on the United States.”

Trump also hinted that something bigger could take place, depending on the outcome of the tariff talks.

“We’ll see what happens, but something pretty dramatic could happen,” he said. “We’ve told Mexico the tariffs go on, and I mean it too.”

Both Mexico and the United States have said that they won’t get into a tariff war.

The talks come as U.S. border officials report the apprehension of over 132,000 illegal immigrants crossing from Mexico into the United States in the month of May alone. The figure marked yet another increase over the previous month and the highest monthly level since 2006.

Officials have for months been describing the flow of migrants as being at crisis levels. Trump has said that Mexico hasn’t taken enough action to quell the tide of illegal immigrants crossing the border, most of whom are passing through Mexico from other Central American countries.

“Our nation is experiencing an unprecedented border security and humanitarian crisis on the southwest border, both at and between our ports of entry,” Randy Howe, the executive director for the Office of Field Operations at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), told reporters on a call.

He said that on June 4 alone, CBP apprehended more than 4,100 people and had 19,293 people in custody.

“We are bursting at the seams,” Howe said. “It is unsustainable.”

More than 63 percent of those apprehended in May were minors and people traveling as families. However, border security officials say an unknown number of these units use fraudulent birth certificates to fake family ties.

Under current U.S. law, authorities can only hold illegal alien families for 20 days. As a result, those who claim asylum as families are released into the United States shortly after apprehension. Officials said in May that they are piloting a rapid DNA-testing program at the border to help combat the problem.

Epoch Times reporter Ivan Pentchoukov and Reuters contributed to this report 

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