(CBS NEWS)- President Trump threatened to put tariffs on cars coming into the U.S. from Mexico, if Mexico does not do enough to prevent illegal immigration into the U.S. and if it does not crack down on drugs crossing the border. He said that he would give Mexico a year to prevent immigrants from entering the U.S. before following through on the auto taxes.
And if immigrants continue to enter the U.S. through the southern border, Mr. Trump said he would close the border, backing away a bit from an earlier threat to close the border soon.
“If Mexico doesn’t help, that’s okay. We’ll tariff their cars,” he said. At another point, he said, “If the drugs don’t stop, we’ll tariff the cars. If that doesn’t work, we’ll close the border.” He said he was not bluffing. “I will do it; I don’t play games.” He added, “the whole ballgame is cars.”
He did not elaborate on how much time he would allow to see if tariffs are effective before closing the border.
Mr. Trump’s threat comes as he is trying to shepherd the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement through Congress, the renegotiated trade deal which replaced NAFTA. Implementing tariffs on cars would violate this agreement. However, Mr. Trump said that he cares more about U.S. security than about the trade agreement.
On China, the president promised to talk more later about the deal, but he seemed optimistic about how the talks are progressing. “They very much want to make a deal,” Mr. Trump said, adding, “It has to be a great deal. If it is not a great deal, we’re not doing it.” He said the talks are “very well along.”
The president is meeting with the Chinese vice premier later Thursday.