Can tariffs on Mexico solve the immigration issue?

The 360 is a feature designed to show you diverse perspectives on the day’s top stories.

Speed read

What's happening: President Trump announced the United States would impose a 5 percent tariff on all goods coming into the country from Mexico starting June 10, "until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied." The tariffs would increase to as much as 25 percent in the months that follow.

If the tariffs are put into effect, companies importing products from Mexico would pay an additional tax. Last year the United States imported nearly $350 billion in goods from Mexico. The impact of the tariffs could be felt in a wide number of industries, including automobile manufacturing, electronics and produce.

Why there's debate: Proponents of the plan see it as a strong method of compelling Mexico to address immigration. Any economic impact the tariffs have is worthwhile, they argue, if it leads to changes that alleviate issues at the southern border.

Economists warn that tariffs often lead to higher prices, meaning the bulk of the cost would ultimately be paid by American consumers. The head of a U.S. manufacturers association said the tariffs would have "devastating consequences."

Others argue that the ongoing trade war with China shows that Trump doesn't understand the basic facts of how tariffs work, mistakenly thinking the other country foots the bill.

What's next: Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has indicated his government may be willing to make some concessions to avoid the tariffs. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney says Trump is "deadly serious" about his plan and called tariffs on Mexico one of the “extraordinary tools” to stop the increased flow of border crossings. Republicans in the Senate are reportedly considering taking legislative action to stop the tariffs, a move Trump said would be "foolish."

Officials from both countries are scheduled to discuss the issue in Washington on Wednesday, five days before the tariffs are set to kick in.


American consumers will pay the price for the tariffs

"The Trump administration’s newly imposed import tariffs will be felt most sharply by a group that the President is loath to alienate: ordinary, working American households." — Rey Mashayekhi, Fortune

The tariffs risk cratering a bullish stock market

"On Wall Street, there is a lot of nervousness about where things are heading, and whether Tariff Man understands the risks that he is taking. Financial markets don’t usually go south gradually; they collapse suddenly, in a heap." — John Cassidy, New Yorker

It's unreasonable to think Mexico can meet Trump's request

"A phased series of tariffs on Mexican imports is supposed to spook the Mexican government into handling this problem. That, of course, raises the question of whether the Mexican government actually can handle a problem that is allegedly overwhelming the resources of the much richer United States." — Matthew Yglesias, Vox

The tariffs will batter American businesses

"Many of those costs will be borne by American consumers and — this cannot be emphasized enough — American businesses that rely in some part on imported inputs." — editorial, National Review

Trump's dream of ultimately replacing NAFTA will be compromised

"President Donald Trump’s vow to impose new tariffs on Mexican imports risks sabotaging not just his drive to forge more favorable trade deals but also a U.S. economy that he says has strengthened under his watch." — Paul Wiseman, Associated Press

Trump is trying to follow through on his central campaign promise

"The wave of border policies flowing from the White House offers a clear signal that Trump’s reelection bid is likely to focus on immigration more than any other topic — a cause that animates his base but also highlights his failure to contain the flow of Central American migrants coming to the United States in record numbers." — Toluse Olorunnipa, Washington Post

This move may backfire politically by hurting voters in swing states

"The economic damage of U.S. tariffs on Mexican goods would tear through battleground states that President Donald Trump needs to win re-election, hurting the auto industry in Michigan and Ohio, dairy farmers in Wisconsin and grain and hog farmers in Iowa and North Carolina." — Mike Dorning and Keith Naughton, Bloomberg

Economic moves are the only way to make Mexico address border issues

"The madness at the border will end. The flood of human traffickers, drug smugglers, and gang members will be stopped. The mockery that these criminal invaders have made of our immigration laws and our generous asylum system will be rectified. And Mexico is going to step up and help us achieve all of that." — Charlie Kirk, Townhall

Read more 360s