There’s growing consternation on the right about President Donald Trump’s plan to pressure the Mexican government into cooperating more on illegal immigration by instituting tariffs, and it’s made for some interesting splits in the Senate.
Notably, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) — a consistent ally of the president’s immigration agenda in the upper chamber — has come out vocally against the idea of pressuring Mexico through tariffs, citing the effect that it could have on his home state’s economy.
“There is no doubt we have an emergency at the border, which is exacerbated and perpetuated by congressional Democrats who refuse to close loopholes in our law that are resulting in a massive influx of illegal immigration,” a Cruz spokesperson told Blaze Media in a statement. “The answer, however, is not imposing tariffs against Mexico.”
The statement explained that a “25 percent tariff on Mexico would impose nearly $30 billion of new taxes on Texans. That doesn’t make any sense.”
Rather, Cruz’s office said, “It’s time for congressional Democrats to work with Republicans and President Trump to do something about the serious humanitarian crisis we’re seeing in Texas and other border states because of unchecked illegal immigration.”
Following a closed-door meeting of GOP senators Tuesday, Cruz told a White House representative that “I want you to take a message back … you didn’t hear a single yes” from the conference in favor of the plan, the New York Times reported.
“I will yield to nobody in passion and seriousness and commitment for securing the border,” Cruz told reporters later. “But there’s no reason for Texas farmers and ranchers and manufacturers and small businesses to pay the price of massive new taxes.”
In contrast, Marco Rubio, whose 2016 presidential primary bid was weighed down by his previous support of the 2013 “Gang of 8” immigration bill, spoke out in support of the president Wednesday morning, albeit with caveats about tariffs in general.
“I don’t generally like tariffs either,” the Florida senior senator tweeted. “But what alternative do my GOP colleagues have to get #Mexico to secure its southern border, use the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to screen northbound rail cars & vehicles & act on intel we provide on human traffickers?”
Should the proposed tariffs go into effect next week, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) predicted that there would be a bipartisan Senate vote against them via a resolution of disapproval.
However, the tariffs might not ever have to go into effect, depending on Mexico’s level of cooperation, according to a key Trump trade adviser.
“We believe that these tariffs may not have to go into effect precisely because we have the Mexicans’ attention,” White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told CNN Wednesday, pointing to upcoming meetings with between Mexican and American officials. “I think let’s stay calm and look at the chess board here.”