Pence meets with top Mexican diplomat as tariff deadline nears

Vice President Mike Pence and other top administration officials are meeting with Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, Wednesday afternoon at the White House as Mexico looks to avoid the tariffs President Trump has threatened to impose next week if Mexico doesn’t block the flow of migrants illegally entering the U.S.

The White House has not publicly laid out conditions Mexico must meet to avoid the tariffs, saying in general terms that Mexico should stem the flow of migrants from Central America and send them back to their home countries.

The 3 p.m. White House meeting was closed to the press.

Mr. Trump announced last week that he will impose 5% tariffs on all goods entering the U.S. from Mexico beginning on June 10 “until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our country, STOP.” The tariffs would gradually increase each month, Mr. Trump said, a threat the White House insists is very much real.

Outgoing top economic adviser Kevin Hassett admits the tariffs would hurt the U.S. economy, but says they would cause far greater harm to the Mexican economy. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says the tariffs would be detrimental to the U.S. economy.

Peter Navarro, a top trade adviser to the president, told CNN Wednesday the tariffs might not have to take effect, because “we have the Mexicans’ attention.”

Even Republicans have to the president’s proposed tariffs on Mexican goods, with some of them insisting it would overstep presidential authority and damage the strong U.S. economy. Senate Majority Mitch McConnell said many in his caucus won’t support the tariffs, but it remains to be seen if Republicans would take legislative action to oppose the president.

Mexico’s foreign minister, too, expressed optimism this week that the tariffs can be averted.

“From Washington I can report that we have made progress during meetings with cabinet members, private think tanks, specialists. We are working hard to reach an understanding. It’s doable and desirable. 80/20 chances in favor of doing it,” Ebrard said in a tweet translated from Spanish.

Mr. Trump says Republicans would be “foolish” if they try to put a stop to his tariffs.

“Oh, I don’t think they will do that,” Mr. Trump said in a press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday. “I think if they do, it’s foolish. There’s nothing more important than borders. I’ve had tremendous Republican support. I have a 90%, 94% approval rating, as of this morning, in the Republican Party. That’s an all-time record. Can you believe that? Isn’t that something? I love records. But we have a 94 percent approval rating in the Republican Party.”

Mr. Trump was awaiting judgment on Wednesday during a meeting with the Irish prime minister in Ireland.

“We’ll see what happens today, we should know something,” Mr. Trump said.

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