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Texas Republicans leery of Trump tariffs on Mexico

31 May

President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement of tariffs on all imports from Mexico, starting at 5% but quickly escalating to 25% unless illegal border crossings “substantially” stop, put Texas Republicans in a delicate spot Friday.

State Republican leaders have been supportive of Trump’s border policies, but they also have been staunch protectors of the Texas economy, which can expect to take a hit from higher prices for goods and possible retaliatory tariffs from Mexico, the state’s largest trading partner.

Gov. Greg Abbott said he opposed the tariffs, but he placed the blame for the situation on Congress, not his fellow Republican in the White House.

“I’ve previously stated my opposition to tariffs due to the harm it would inflict on the Texas economy, and I remain opposed today,” Abbott said, adding that he share’s Trump’s “deep frustration” with congressional inaction.

“The crisis at our southern border is at a breaking point,” he said. “The president is trying to address this emergency. Now, Congress must do its job and start passing laws to fix our broken immigration system.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, opposed the new policy as well.

“Senator Cornyn supports the president’s commitment to securing our border, but he opposes this across-the-board tariff which will disproportionately hurt Texas,” Cornyn spokesman Drew Brandewie said.

Democrats condemned of the tariff plan as dangerous, ill-advised and poorly conceived.

“Texas will bear the brunt of this recklessness,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party. “Texas Democrats cannot and will not let Trump Republicans drag Texas families down.”

Mexico is the state’s largest trading partner, receiving almost 40% of Texas exports and supporting 387,000 Texas jobs, according to the Texas-Mexico Trade Coalition.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said the tariffs will have severe impact on Texas consumers and businesses and inspire reciprocal tariffs that will put the state economy at risk.

“Congress cannot allow this president to tank our economy and our relationships with neighbors to further demonize immigrants fleeing violence,” Castro said. “Increasing the costs of goods on Americans will not solve the dire humanitarian situation in Central America. We are a nation of immigrants. President Trump cannot, and will not, rewrite that history.”

Trump, in a statement released by the White House, said Mexico’s failure to enforce its strong immigration laws “constitutes an emergency and extraordinary threat to the national security and economy of the United States.”

“Mexico cannot allow hundreds of thousands of people to pour over its land and into our country — violating the sovereign territory of the United States. If Mexico does not take decisive measures, it will come at a significant price,” Trump said.

A 5% tariff on all goods imported from Mexico will start June 10, Trump said. If the border crisis persists, he added, the tariff will rise by five points at the beginning of each month, peaking at 25% on Oct. 1.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, who monitors the state economy, believes tariffs will have a negative impact on the nation’s top exporting state.

“Comptroller Hegar is concerned about anything that causes a significant reduction in trade and the free flow of goods between Texas and Mexico,” spokesman Chris Bryan said.

This is a developing story.

Article Source: Statesman