President Trump slammed The New York Times on Monday over an article on the administration’s immigration deal with Mexico that he called a “FRAUD” and a “hit job” -- while also warning that if Mexico's legislature does not approve the pact, he will move anew to impose tariffs.
The president's comments come after the administration on Friday announced a deal with Mexico which would halt Trump's threatened tariffs in exchange for Mexico taking further action to stop the flow of migrants from Central America to the U.S.-Mexico border.
According to the joint declaration issued by the State Department, Mexico will take “unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration, to include the deployment of its National Guard throughout Mexico, giving priority to its southern border.”
But the Times reported that the deal includes a range of actions that Mexico already had promised to take in prior negotiations with the Trump administration over the past several months.
“When will the Failing New York Times admit that their front page story on the new Mexico deal at the Border is a FRAUD and nothing more than a badly reported ‘hit job’ on me, something that has been going on since the first day I announced for the presidency! Sick journalism,” Trump tweeted early Monday.
The president seemed to be referring to an article published by the Times on Saturday, which reported that the Mexican government had already pledged to deploy its National Guard to the border in March during talks with former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
The Times did, though, say that Mexico's pledge to deploy up to 6,000 national guard troops to its southern border with Guatemala "was larger than their previous pledge," and that Mexico's "agreement to accelerate the Migrant Protection Protocols could help reduce what Trump calls 'catch and release' of migrants in the United States by giving the country a greater ability to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico."
Through the agreement, the U.S. is slated to extend its policy of returning asylum applicants to Mexico while their claims are processed. The U.S. also committed to accelerating asylum claims while Mexico said it will “offer jobs, healthcare and education according to its principles.”
The deal also stated that Mexico will take “decisive action” to dismantle smuggling and trafficking operations, while both countries will increase cooperation to protect the border.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," pushed back on The Times report and 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 coordinated patrols in key areas along our southwest border," he said, adding that "people can disagree with the tactics" but "Mexico came to the table with real proposals."
But even as the president called the agreement “successful,” he suggested he may again seek to impose tariffs on Mexico if the plan falls through.
“We have fully signed and documented another very important part of the Immigration and Security deal with Mexico, one that the U.S. has been asking about getting for many years. It will be revealed in the not too distant future and will need a vote by Mexico’s Legislative body!” Trump tweeted.
“We do not anticipate a problem with the vote but, if for any reason the approval is not forthcoming, Tariffs will be reinstated!” he added.
For now, the deal ends plans by the Trump administration to slap a 5 percent tariff on all goods coming into the U.S. from Mexico -- something that had sparked fears from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress about the possible economic fallout from such a move, with concerns it could kill off an incoming trade deal between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. The tariffs were slated to go into effect Monday and continue to increase each month, reaching 25 percent by Oct. 1, 2019.
The U.S.-Mexico deal also comes amid an escalating crisis at the border, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection reporting last week that it apprehended or encountered more than 144,000 migrants at the border in May—levels not seen in over a decade.
Trump has repeatedly expressed frustration at the crisis and repeatedly blamed both congressional Democrats and Mexico for not doing more to protect against the surges of migrants at the southern border.
Fox News' Adam Shaw and Gregg Re contributed to this report.