President Donald Trump and acting White House Chief of Staff...

President Donald Trump and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney sit together during a meeting with Caribbean leaders at Mar-A Lago, March 22 in Palm Beach, Fla. Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is “deadly serious” about imposing tariffs on Mexican goods starting next week in a bid to force Mexico to step-up its immigration enforcement efforts, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday.

Mulvaney, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” insisted Trump would “absolutely” follow through on enacting a 5% tariff on all imported Mexican products starting June 10. 

“He is absolutely, deadly serious,” Mulvaney said about the tariffs Trump announced last week. “I fully expect these tariffs to go on to at least the five percent level on June 10th. The President is deadly serious about fixing the situation at the southern border.”

Trump has previously walked back similar economic threats against Mexico. In March, he announced plans to shut the U.S. border with Mexico to trade, before reversing course a month later amid backlash from lawmakers and business groups. Instead, Trump said in April he would give Mexico a “one-year notice." The Trump Administration also agreed last month to lift tariffs on aluminum and steel products imported from Mexico and Canada as part of trade talks.

Trump’s latest order calls for a 5% tariff on all Mexican imports — from produce to manufactured goods — which would increase 5% each month until being capped at 25%  in October. Trump has said the tariffs will not be removed “unless and until Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow” of Central American migrants fleeing to the United States by crossing through Mexico.

The White House has not detailed what benchmarks Mexico must meet for the tariffs to be lifted, a move Mulvaney described as intentional.

“We intentionally left the declaration sort of ad hoc so that we can work with the Mexicans to make sure that things did get better,” Mulvaney told  “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace. “So there’s no specific target. There is no specific percentage, but things have to get better.”

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, speaking to reporters on Saturday, said Mexico was sending a delegation to Washington on Wednesday to discuss the tariffs and he expected “good results” from the talks.

Trump, who spent Sunday morning at his Sterling, Virginia, golf club before departing for a scheduled weeklong trip to England, Ireland and France, took to Twitter Sunday to defend the tariffs. The import taxes have been criticized by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, who argue the tariffs may derail passage of a new sweeping trade deal with Mexico and Canada known as the USMCA.

Trump on Twitter described Mexico as "an 'abuser' of the United States, taking but never giving," and repeated his call for Mexico to increase its own border security efforts, saying if the country did not act, “many companies and jobs that have been foolishly allowed to move South of the Border, will be brought back into the United States through taxation (Tariffs). America has had enough!”

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