President Donald Trump eased back Thursday on his threats to close the southern border, including all legal ports of entry. Instead, he said, Mexico has a year to combat drug trafficking, and then sealing the border could still be an option.
What about closing the border?
On Friday, Trump said in a series of tweets that he would close the border the following week if Congress did not strengthen current immigration laws and if Mexico did not do its part to decrease the number of illegal immigrants trying to cross the southern border of the United States.
What happened now?
This threat met with criticism from members of his own party, including usual Trump stalwart Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who said that the move would be "devastating" and would "punish Texas farmers and ranchers and manufacturers and small businesses." Cruz added that "millions of jobs, in Texas and across the country, depend upon trade with Mexico, and the federal government shouldn't do anything to jeopardize those jobs."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) echoed these concerns, according to NBC News.
"Closing down the border would have potentially catastrophic economic impact on our country, and I would hope we would not be doing that sort of thing," McConnell said.
But by Thursday Trump eased up on his threats. Instead, he said he'll give Mexico a "one-year warning" to curb the flow of drugs into the U.S. If the Mexican government failed to do this, he would implement punishments.
"If Mexico doesn't help, that's OK. We'll tariff their cars," Trump said.
Mexican auto production was a crucial part of the new USMCA trade deal that Trump signed with the leaders of Mexico and Canada in late November. Under the terms of the deal, Mexico agreed to make sure that more of the parts it uses for its auto manufacturing come from the United States. It also agreed to raise the pay for auto workers to $16 an hour, and to other labor reforms.
"The only thing frankly better, but less drastic than closing the border, is to tariff the cars coming in," Trump said, according to Politico. "We're going to give them a one-year warning and if the drugs don't stop or largely stop, we'll put tariffs on Mexico and products, in particular cars."