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Auto tariffs or border closure: Trump gives Mexico 'one-year' warning

President Trump on Thursday retreated further from his threat to close the southern border, instead saying he would slap auto tariffs on Mexico within a year before closing the border in an attempt to stop drug trafficking and illegal immigration.

“You know I will do it,” Trump told reporters in the Cabinet Room. “I don’t play games.”


Trump described his newest threat as a “one-year warning” to the Mexican government to stem the flow of drugs and migrants traveling through its country en route to the U.S.

“If the drugs don’t stop, or largely stop, we’re going to put tariffs on Mexico and products, in particular cars. The whole ballgame is cars. And if that doesn’t stop the drugs, we close the border,” the president said.

The warning comes days after Trump appeared to back off his initial threat to shut the U.S.-Mexico border. The president said last Friday he would make the move this week, but then on Tuesday he said his decision would depend on a variety of factors, including congressional action and increased enforcement by Mexico.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress, as well as business groups, warned that such a move could deliver a catastrophic blow to the U.S. economy. Mexico is the U.S.’s third largest goods trading partner and nearly a half million people cross the border legally each day, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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