Tucker Carlson Declares Mexico 'Hostile Foreign Power,' Says Tariffs May Slow U.S. Economy But are Needed

With President Donald Trump threatening to impose tariffs on all goods imported from Mexico, some economists and business owners are concerned of the negative effect these extra costs could have on everything from retail costs to jobs to economic growth. However, Fox News host Tucker Carlson argued that while these tariffs might indeed hurt Americans, they are nonetheless necessary.

During the opening segment of his Friday night show, Carlson brought up the fact that critics of the tariff plan claim the billions of dollars in additional costs would slow the U.S. economy.

"They're likely right, over time they probably would, but we ought to impose them anyway," said the conservative host. "Not every government policy is a pure economic calculation. When the United States is attacked by a hostile foreign power, it must strike back. And make no mistake, Mexico is a hostile foreign power. For decades, the Mexican government has sent its poor north to our country. That has allowed that country's criminal oligarchy to maintain power and get even richer, but at great expense to us."

Carlson then went on to blame what he described as a "flood of illegal workers" for having "damaged our communities, ruined our schools, burdened our healthcare system and fractured our national unity" in what he dubbed a "slow-motion attack on this country."

He then accused "our leaders" of "instinctively sid[ing] with Mexico" on the tariff issue, before throwing to a clip package that did not actually include any comments from any world leaders. The closest anyone in the video came to that designation was former Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Despite Carlson's declaration, Mexico is not considered a foreign power hostile to the United States. It is America's third-largest trading partner, sending some $370 billion in goods in services north to the U.S. each year and purchasing nearly $300 billion from American suppliers. Mexico is the largest foreign provider of agricultural goods to the U.S., with $26 billion in food and beverages being imported last year alone.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, Mexican migrants make up about 53 percent of unauthorized migrants who are already in the United States, but that ratio has been declining as migration from Mexico has decreased and migration from other nations has increased.

Data from the U.S. Border Patrol shows that in 2000, nearly 98 percent of illegal migrant apprehensions were of Mexicans. By 2018, Mexican migrants accounted for only around 38 percent of those apprehended.

In contrast, the majority of migrants apprehended now come from Central America, with Guatemala accounting for 29 percent, followed by Honduras (19 percent) and El Salvador (8%). However, unless they travel by water or air, these migrants must come to the U.S. through Mexico.

The Fox News host was heavily criticized on social media for his comments, with many Twitter users suggesting that Carlson was more willing to call Mexico and enemy of the U.S. than Russia, which was proven to have actively attempted to meddle with America's elections.

The proposed tariff would go into effect June 10 at the level of 5 percent on all imported goods from Mexico. The tariff will increase by 5 percent on the first of each subsequent month until the Trump administration is satisfied that Mexico's government has done enough to halt migration to the U.S. Trump said the tariffs would top out at 25 percent, which — if allowed to remain in place — would add more than $85 billion annually to the cost of goods imported from Mexico.

Trump has repeatedly claimed that tariffs are a penalty on the exporting country, but most economists disagree. While tariffs may, in the long term, make imported goods less desirable, leading U.S. importers to look elsewhere or purchase domestically, the costs of tariffs are paid by these importers, who then regularly pass them on to customers. Additionally, countries hit with a punitive tariff of this sort may retaliate by placing tariffs on imports from America.

Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard tweeted Friday that he would be meeting in Washington, D.C., Wednesday with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the tariffs.