Remarks by Vice President Pence at Press Gaggle
June 6, 2019
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thanks everybody. Thank for being here. It's great to be back in Pennsylvania at a time that this state's economy and our national economy is roaring thanks to the policies that the President has advanced and members of Congress and leaders in industry around the country have been supporting. We've rolled back taxes. We've rolled back regulation. We've unleashed energy.
But being here today to share our enthusiasm for the USMCA – how it levels the playing field between the United States and Mexico and Canada, what it will mean for manufacturing here in Pennsylvania and all across the country – it was a great privilege for me. And I want to thank the team here at JLS for the warm hospitality and the warm welcome.
We're going to continue to carry the story about USMCA all across the country. We believe the time has come for Congress to pass the USMCA and pass the USMCA this summer. I think it represents a fresh start in our relationship with our trading partners to the north and the south that will put American jobs, American workers, manufacturing, and agriculture first. And we're going to continue to drive this policy forward.
Before I take questions, let me also address the ongoing discussions that are taking place with the Mexican delegation. As you all are aware, last week President Trump announced action in the form of a 5 percent tariff that would be imposed, effective this Monday, unless Mexico were to step forward and take action to address what is an undeniable humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border.
As was revealed just yesterday by officials, last month alone, we saw 144,000 people come into our country illegally. It is overwhelming our system. President Trump made it clear that Mexico must do more.
Yesterday, the President directed us – myself, the Secretary of State, and our team – to meet with the Mexican delegation, at their request, and hear them out. Progress was made. The Mexican delegation brought forward proposals, but as the President said last night, "It was not nearly enough."
And we made it clear yesterday at the White House that Mexico must do significantly more to end this crisis of illegal immigration at our border. We called on them to take even more steps – more decisive action.
I've been receiving reports throughout the day as those negotiations have continued at the State Department. And we're encouraged that, frankly, the Mexican delegation brought even more proposals today. But I'll be talking to the President later tonight, over the course of this weekend, about what's being proposed.
But the American people can be confident that, while we continue to advance policies like the USMCA, we'll continue to drive forward policies for infrastructure, legislation – all the kinds of things that will continue to support a growing American economy.
This President has no higher priority than ending the crisis of illegal immigration that is flooding our southern border. People are being hurt on both sides of the border. And the President has made it clear that it's time for Mexico to act to take such actions necessary to stem this enormous flow of illegal immigrants to our border. And as I said today, we'll also continue to call on the Congress to act.
I mean, the truth is that drug cartels and human traffickers are using loopholes in American law to entice vulnerable families to take the long and dangerous journey north from Central America, often at great risk to themselves and great harm to themselves and vulnerable children along the way.
The truth is, Congress – in the midst of doing everything else – as I said today, ought to take this issue up, ought to work with our administration and supporters in the House and Senate; close the loopholes; and we believe that, in combination with strong action by Mexico, will end the crisis that the American people face at our southern border.
But let me say again, those discussions are ongoing with the State Department. We'll continue those discussions. But the American people can be confident, President Trump is going to continue to stand strong until Mexico takes the action necessary to end this crisis of illegal immigration at our southern border.
Q You mentioned that Mexico brought additional proposals today.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: They did.
Q Did that include them committing to – agreeing to a (inaudible) third-country agreement with the United States?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, let me say I don't what to negotiate in public. But we made it very clear that, in addition to internal enforcement, that there would have to be new understandings between the United States and Mexico.
We began last fall to implement what's known as the "Remain in Mexico" proposal. At this point, we're returning hundreds of people back to remain in Mexico while their asylum applications are being processed. But we spoke about that. We spoke about other arrangements.
But the bottom line is we made it very clear that Mexico has to step up. They have to do more, and they have to do more quickly. I mean, the American people see what's happening at our southern border.
As I talk to border state governors, the heartbreaking stories of vulnerable families – last month alone, of the 144,000 that came across our border, 100,000 were families with children. Now, again, the drug cartels are essentially telling people if you bring a dependent – a child – with you, you can exploit loopholes in our laws. That has to change and it has to change on both sides of the border.
Congress needs to act, but we'll continue to call on Mexico, as these discussions continue, to take actions necessary and reach agreements with the United States that will allow us to, in effect, take that enticement away from people that are being exploited by human traffickers.
Q Mr. Vice President, what are these remaining hurdles with Mexico?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: What are the remaining what?
Q What are the remaining hurdles to get something done by Monday?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, let me say, the President has no timetable. We've announced that 5 percent tariffs are going to be imposed on all goods coming in from Mexico on Monday. And if we don't see the results that we need to see – we don't see action by Mexico in the months ahead – those tariffs will increase.
But that being said, the Mexican delegation asked for an opportunity to meet to bring us proposals about how they can address this issue and respond to the President's call for action.
And we listened to them yesterday. As i said, they brought a number of proposals – mostly having to do with internal security within Mexico – that we listened to.
But as the President made clear, we made clear to them, it was not nearly enough. We called on them to do more. I'm encouraged that they came today with more, but it will be a matter for the President to consider what they're offering and for us to evaluate those proposals to determine whether or not it will be sufficient to really bring this crisis of illegal immigration at our southern border to an end. That's our objective.
Q Mr. Vice President, economists are saying that the 5 percent tariffs will be detrimental to the U.S. economy. Are there discussions about those concerns?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, look, the American economy is booming. *We have seen 5.8 million jobs created in the wake of the President's effort to roll back red tape, cut taxes, unleash energy. You see job creation all across Pennsylvania and all across this country. And we'll continue to advance policies that will create a growing America, but we have an undeniable crisis on our southern border.
The president and I have literally been talking about it for the past two years. Now, we heard from the other party that there was no crisis for a time. But now I think every American recognizes – and every leader in the Democratic Party should recognize – that the crisis is real. It's time to set politics aside, and Congress should come together and work in good faith to pass the kind of changes in our immigration laws that will take away the enticement that human traffickers use to attract vulnerable families to make the long and dangerous journey north.
We think that's the priority. We'll continue to stand for a growing economy, but ending the crisis on our southern border is the number-one priority for this President and this administration.
Q Yeah, following up on the other question: You said, the President is going to evaluate Mexico's proposals today. So as of now the tariffs will go into effect on Monday? And how optimistic are you that any agreement can be reached between now and Monday?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, the President announced 5 percent tariffs will be imposed on Monday on all goods coming in from Mexico. That's the policy of the United States. The President has said what he means and he meant what he said. We made that very clear to the Mexican delegation yesterday – that for anything to change, either before or after Monday, Mexico has to step up. Mexico has to take decisive action to end this surge of illegal immigration that is literally overwhelming our southern border. There's actions they can take. We made recommendations to them.
There's been some movement on their part that's been encouraging. But at the end of the day, we'll – as those discussions have wrapped up today, we'll evaluate those proposals and we'll prevent – we'll present them to the President. But ultimately, President Trump will make the decision whether or not the actions that Mexico is prepared to take are sufficient for us to consider changing course.
But at this point, the tariffs are going to be imposed on Monday. We've made that very clear to the Mexican delegation. But discussions are going to continue in the days ahead, and our hope is that Mexico will respond.
I mean, the President is fully prepared, not just to impose the 5 percent tariffs, but to increase those tariffs in the months ahead, but we hope for better. We hope to see Mexico step up and take such action that's necessary to end this crisis of illegal immigration at our southern border. If they take that action in earnest, we believe that we'll be the best neighbors they ever had. And we conveyed that spirit in our meeting yesterday.
We want to see this issue resolved because, as I said to the Mexican delegation, there are people being hurt on both sides of the border. And the time has come for Mexico to do more. We'll continue to call on our Congress to do more to close the loopholes in our law. But Mexico and the American people can be confident: President Donald Trump is going to continue to stand firm until we end this humanitarian and security crisis on our southern border.
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