(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said he's an open-markets guy, not a fan of tariffs, but he indicated that he approves of President Trump's threat to impose tariffs on Mexico unless Mexico stops the rush of Central Americans across its southern border with Guatemala.
President Trump tweeted on Friday:
I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico. The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended. Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures to stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border. This is being done to greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States. Details of the agreement will be released shortly by the State Department. Thank you!
Blunt told CBS's "Face the Nation" he talked to President Trump on Friday night:
"He was, I think, appropriately pleased with the agreement that's been made. About 10 days ago, we made an agreement with Guatemala to work with them on that southern border of Mexico, the northern border of Guatemala. Having the Mexicans agree to be a big part of that is a huge thing," Blunt said:
But I think both presidents here have tried to find a good place to be. The new president of Mexico, frankly, has surprised me in his willingness to reach out. That rally that was talked about last night in Tijuana was a rally that honored both a growing Mexico and a strong friendship with the United States.
So, I thought that was a good thing. They had 50 people -- the president told me this Friday night on the phone -- they currently have 50 people -- 5-0 -- on the Guatemalan border.
I think we're going to get closer to about -- about 6,000 Mexican National Guard down there helping with that. We've already announced -- I think we were sending, previous week, about 150 people to work with the Guatemalans.
Obviously, if you look at sort of the funnel of Mexico in your mind, it's easier to secure that bottom border than it is the big border between us and Mexico. And, frankly, also, Margaret, it can't be a good thing for Mexico to have hundreds of thousand or even tens of thousands of people kind of wandering through the country from south to north.
I think this is a big win for both sides. And I think the president's willingness to use tariffs -- even though I'm not a big supporter of tariffs, he is. And his willingness to use that probably helped produce a result. I hope we don't have to go back to that as an issue again with Mexico.
Trump tweeted on Sunday that if Mexico doesn't seal its porous southern border, "we can always go back to our previous, very profitable, position of Tariffs - But I don’t believe that will be necessary."
Blunt said the border deal is good for Mexico as well as the United States:
"The Mexican government itself and the people of Mexico will benefit from trying to (stop) this particular movement of people illegally through their country, with people taking them illegally through their country, with all kinds of cartel and other involvement, cannot be a good thing for Mexico.
"And we're going to be working together with Mexico and Guatemala to get this under control at the easiest place to get it under control, which was the Mexico-Guatemala border," Blunt said.
"I think the biggest lesson here, probably the biggest message here is now not to Mexico, but to China, that the president is clearly willing to use tariffs. And, actually, the president believes that tariffs are a significant positive economic tool. Lots of people in the country agree with that.
"That's never been my view, but it's always been the president's view, so he is consistently willing to use something that he has always said was -- should be part of our arsenal."
Blunt said what's happening at the U.S.-Mexico border "is truly a humanitarian crisis," particularly as it relates to unaccompanied minors. The program that handles them is about to run out of money.
"I hope our -- our friends on the other side, the Democrats, will step up and join us in providing the money needed to take care of unaccompanied kids. Now, it's important to understand these are not kids who've been separated from their parents.
"This is no argument about separating kids from their parents. These are kids who are left -- under 18, who came on their own. About 30 percent of them are under 12 or so. The others are teenagers of various ages, but they're minors. They get here on their own," Blunt said.
"We're going to have about 88,000 come this year, 88,000 kids by themselves. And everybody, when they think about this, surely understands you can't let 12- and 13- and 14-year-old boys and girls, you can't say, OK, we don't have any place to go with you. And it's illegal to return you back to your home country. We're just going to let you loose in the United States and you -- you show up at some future time to have your case handled."
Blunt said Congress needs to vote soon on a $2.8 billion supplemental appropriation for the Department Health and Human Services "for the sole purpose of taking care of these kids who are here by themselves."