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Mulvaney: Trump 'absolutely, deadly serious' about Mexico tariffs

Mulvaney: Trump 'absolutely, deadly serious' about Mexico tariffs
© Greg Nash

Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOMB nominee gets hearing on Feb. 9 Republicans now 'shocked, shocked' that there's a deficit Financial firms brace for Biden's consumer agency chief MORE said Sunday that President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse passes voting rights and elections reform bill DEA places agent seen outside Capitol during riot on leave Georgia Gov. Kemp says he'd 'absolutely' back Trump as 2024 nominee MORE is "absolutely, deadly serious" about forcing Mexico to crack down on illegal immigration through gradually increasing tariffs.

"He is absolutely, deadly serious. In fact, I fully expect these tariffs to go on to at least the 5 percent level on June 10. The president is deadly serious about fixing the situation at the southern border,"  Mulvaney said on "Fox News Sunday."

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An initial round of tariffs is set at 5 percent on all Mexican imports and would gradually increase to 25 percent. 

Asked what the Mexican government could do to alleviate the tariffs, Mulvaney said it could secure its border with Guatemala, through which large numbers of migrants bound for the U.S. cross, and take steps to make it safer for immigrants to stay in Mexico. 

The White House “intentionally left the declaration sort of ad hoc” with “no specific target,” Mulvaney added.

Mulvaney also dismissed warnings that the tariffs would hurt Americans, saying the same “economic orthodoxy” had been invoked in reference to a round of tariffs on Chinese goods.

“American consumers will not pay the burden of these tariffs,” he said, adding that “there’s already a price” in the form of “hundreds of billion dollars” for undocumented immigrants.

He was similarly optimistic the standoff would not hurt ongoing negotiations on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, saying that the proposed North American Free Trade Agreement replacement was a trade issue rather than an immigration issue and that the two are “not interrelated.”