President Donald Trump’s use of tariffs to pressure Mexico into taking responsibility for its role in the border crisis is a game-changer that will provide benefits to the American people no matter what happens.
American taxpayers are already spending billions of dollars every year on illegal aliens and other costs associated with our uncontrolled border. If Mexico doesn’t take swift and decisive action to stem the flow of illegal immigrants to our southern border, the economic benefits of the new tariffs — which the president has put on hold after reaching an agreement with Mexican diplomats — will at least allow us to recoup some of those losses.
For many years, the Mexican government refused our requests to deter people from crossing the border illegally, and even actively encouraged the exodus of its most impoverished citizens by providing tips for surviving the dangerous journey.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador could easily implement a solution by enforcing his country’s own immigration laws, which are much tougher than ours, to stop the caravans of Central American migrants that pass through Mexican territory. President Trump reversed decades of American passivity toward Mexico’s intransigence, and gave Obrador a compelling reason to start cooperating.
If Obrador fails to follow through on his commitments, though, Americans have nothing to fear from the imposition of tariffs, even if they eventually reach the 25% cap the president has set on their gradual escalation.
Mexico’s economy depends far more on access to America’s market than our economy depends on imports of cheap Mexican goods, so while the tariffs would undoubtedly inflict noticeable damage to the Mexican economy, they could actually produce economic benefits for the U.S. — primarily in the form of new jobs, since companies that produce goods in Mexico could avoid the tariffs simply by relocating to America.
One way or the other, President Trump’s strategy ensures that America will emerge stronger, tariffs or not.
Brandon Judd is president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents about 16,000 agents.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: President Trump's tariff strategy produces a game-changing win