- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 6, 2019

Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that Mexico is negotiating, but its offers so far on how to stem the border crisis are “not nearly enough” to stop President Trump from imposing tariffs on Monday.

Mr. Pence, who led talks with a Mexican delegation on Wednesday, said that doesn’t mean there was no progress — but what Mexico is willing to do isn’t good enough.

“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. And our hope is, as these discussions continue, that Mexico will step up, will take such action that is necessary to address what the American people know is a real humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border of the United States,” the vice president said.

Mr. Pence was leaving Washington Thursday to visit Bedford, Virginia, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

But he said the State Department would continue to negotiate with Mexico’s foreign minister during the day.

Mexico is rushing Mr. Trump’s Monday deadline for action. Without progress — though the White House hasn’t drawn any lines — Mr. Trump says he will impose a 5% tariff on all Mexican goods, ratcheting the level up monthly until it reaches 25%.

That could be devastating to Mexico’s economy, though economists say eventually it would start to hit American consumers, too.

Mr. Trump, traveling in Europe, said the talks with Mexico were going “great,” recapturing the same optimism he has for tricky talks with China, North Korea and other world hot spots.

“We’ll see what happens. But something pretty dramatic could happen,” Mr. Trump said.

He also pushed back on opposition on Capitol Hill, where Republican senators suggested they may try to mount the votes to block his tariffs.

“They have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to tariffs,” Mr. Trump said.

Mexico has reportedly offered to step up patrols along its own southern border to try to block some of the 5,000 or so migrants entering daily. Currently, U.S. officials say, Mexico blocks perhaps just one in five of them, leaving more than 4,000 a day to reach to the U.S.

But Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says the real solution lies in the U.S. and Mexico engaging in nation-building in Central America, strengthening Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to make them more attractive for people to remain.

But acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who was part of Wednesday’s negotiations, says Mexico needs to do more to tackle the smuggling organizations that funnel the people north.

And he says Mexico could take a lot of pressure off the U.S. by signing a safe third country agreement, which would allow the U.S. to return most Central American asylum-seekers who come through Mexico back to Mexico.

According to surveys, most of those migrants don’t want to stay in Mexico, so the prospect of falling short of their destination in the U.S. could convince them not to bother making the trip in the first place.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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