Schumer: I Don’t Believe That President Trump Will Actually Go Through With Mexico Tariffs Given His Habit Of Talking Tough And Retreating; Schumer Says Senate Democrats Will Push For Additional Aid To Central American Countries To Address Root Causes Of Humanitarian Crisis At Southern Border

June 4, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today gave the following floor remarks regarding President Trump’s proposed tariffs on Mexico and Senate Democrats’ proposal to include additional aid to Central American countries to help address the humanitarian crisis at the southern border. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here: 

Now, Madam President, too much of our conversation about migrants seeking to enter at the southern border has to do with what happens when they get here. Not enough of our conversation concerns how we deal with the problems in the countries where the migrants are coming from.

Many of these migrants are fleeing vicious gang violence, corruption, domestic abuse, drug cartels, and economic hardships so severe that they would risk a journey of a thousand miles on foot rather than stay where they are. We simply have to do more to help the countries where these folks are coming from fix the problems that are causing their people to flee. That’s getting at the root causes here, not just putting a band aid after they get to the border. That may be the most effective way to deal with the overall issue.

But unfortunately, the Trump administration has done the opposite. Its policies are exacerbating the vicious conditions in these Central American countries. President Trump has cut $450 million in security assistance to Central American countries and provided no information about why the cuts have taken place or where the money will go. As usual, it seems it’s sort of on a whim. You know, he gets this idea in his head and spews it out, without checking it out, without explaining it. Even when it has consequences he doesn’t want, which is more people coming to our southern border… So now what the president has proposed is tariffs on Mexico that would be massively destabilizing to our economy—and theirs—a policy that will only lead to more migration. These whimsical and erratic proposals by the president, which seem to pop into his head and then he goes forward with them without checking, is making a mess of what’s going on at the southern border.

So I would say to the president: there’s a much better way to address the migration issue than tariffs—deal with the problems in the Central American countries that are causing migration in the first place.

Democrats have proposed legislation that would do just that: stem the tide of migrants and help reduce the backlog of cases. How?

First, by allowing asylum seekers to apply for asylum in their home countries. If the people under all of this gang violence and viciousness and economic hardship would be able to apply for asylum in Honduras, or in Guatemala, or in El Salvador instead of taking a dangerous and often expensive thousand mile trek, they’d do it! Why don’t we do that? By increasing the number of immigration judges so there could be adjudication rather quickly. And by building the capacity of Central American countries to crack down on violent gangs and vicious drug cartels. Our bill would provide $1.5 billion in security assistance to these countries, far more than the Trump administration has cut. But still it’s nonsensical to have cut this money. This administration gets in its own way almost every day.

But the solutions we proposed are the types we should debate. So we are going to push forward with these proposals. Democrats will seek to add these policies to any package of border legislation that comes here before the Senate.

And if no legislation dealing with the border comes up, Democrats will seek to add security assistance for Central American countries to an appropriations bill and push for language that requires the administration to use it.

This is so important that we will push hard in whatever vehicle we can find to move this proposal. And again, all of these policies would have a far greater impact with far less disruption than slapping tariffs on one of our largest trading partners.

Now, frankly, I don’t believe that President Trump will actually go through with the tariffs. When he doesn’t, we should be ready to proceed to these commonsense policies instead.

President Trump has a habit of talking tough and then retreating. Because his policies often can’t be implemented or don’t make sense. President Trump has a habit of proposing asinine and dangerous policies before backing off. And President Trump has a habit of pretending that the very act of not following through on a misguided policy is somehow a victory. So I wouldn’t be surprised at all if President Trump doesn’t follow through on these tariffs either.

We Democrats have proposed a much better solutions to the problem the president is talking about, and when the president backs off on tariffs, as I believe he will, this is a solution ready to go, that can get bipartisan support, that can actually stem the problems we have at our Southern border.