US President Donald Trump has vowed to renew his tariff threat on Mexico if the country does not co-operate on border issues.
In a series of tweets sent before departing for his golf club in Virginia, Mr Trump defended a deal reached to head off the 5% tax on all Mexican goods that he had threatened to impose.
But he warned Mexico that, “if for some unknown reason” co-operation fails, “we can always go back to our previous, very profitable, position of Tariffs”.
Though he said he did not believe that would be necessary.
The tweets came amid questions about just how much of the deal was really new. It included a commitment from Mexico, for instance, to deploy its new National Guard to the country’s southern border with Guatemala. Mexico, however, had already intended to do that before Mr Trump’s latest threat and had made that clear to US officials.
The US also hailed Mexico’s agreement to embrace the expansion of a programme implemented earlier this year under which some asylum seekers are returned to Mexico as they wait out their cases.
But US officials had already been working to expand the programme, which has already led to the return of about 10,000 to Mexico, without Mexico’s public embrace.
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said: “The president has completely overblown what he reports to have achieved. These are agreements that Mexico had already made, in some cases months ago.
“They might have accelerated the timetable, but by and large the president achieved nothing except to jeopardise the most important trading relationship that the United States of America has.”
Another 2020 candidate, senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, chastised Mr Trump for using tariffs as a threat and operating a “trade policy based on tweets”.
“I think what the world is tired of and what I am tired of is a president who consistently goes to war, verbal war with our allies, whether it is Mexico, whether it is Canada,” he said.
But acting homeland security secretary Kevin McAleenan insisted “all of it is new”, including the agreement to dispatch around 6,000 National Guard troops – a move Mexico has described as an “acceleration”.
“This is the first time we’ve heard anything like this kind of number of law enforcement being deployed in Mexico to address migration, not just at the southern border but also on the transportation routes to the northern border and in co-ordinated patrols in key areas along our southwest border,” he said.