Former Trump transition official criticizes Mexico tariffs

James Carafano, who served on President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE’s transition team as head for foreign policy, criticized Trump over his latest plan to impose a 5 percent tariff on Mexico if the country doesn’t step up its efforts to curb illegal immigration.

“From a policy perspective, it’s using the wrong instrument for the wrong task,” Carafano who is now vice president of conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, told Hill.TV. on Tuesday.

Carafano added that even though Trump’s move has gotten the attention of Mexico’s top diplomats, imposing tariffs is not the right way to go about addressing the influx of Central American migrants at the southern border.

“The Mexicans have kind of been on again and off again on cooperation,” Carafano said. “So trying to get their attention, no argument there — nobody thinks the tariffs are the right way to do that.”

Carafono joined "Rising" to discuss his concerns surrounding the tariffs, and the impact the move could potentially have on the relationship between Mexico and the U.S. amid ongoing trade negotiations. 

Following Trump's announcement of his new tariffs on Mexico, Carafono issued a statement condemning the move. 

“While Americans are greatly harmed by illegal immigration, these tariffs would only further punish our citizens, forcing them to pay more for basic goods and services every day – all because Washington has consistently failed to do its job," he wrote.

But Trump made it clear on Tuesday morning that he intends to follow through on his tariffs, which are set to begin on June 10th and gradually increase each month. 

“We are going to see if we can do something, but I think it’s more likely that the tariffs go on,” he said during a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa MayTheresa Mary MayThe US needs a Secretary of Loneliness EU pushes Brexit deadline back to Jan. 31 Hold the Brexit Champagne MORE.

Republicans, meanwhile, remain divided over how to address Trump’s ongoing trade wars. Trump’s threat to impose tariffs also happens to come amid trade negotiations with China.

Some Republican senators have even floated the possibility of passing legislation to condemn Trump’s plan and limit his tariff power moving forward. Trump has since warned that such an act would be “foolish” and suggested that the lawmakers would be punished politically for going against him.

—Tess Bonn