Donald Trump at his hush money trial
Donald Trump at his hush money trial AFP / Seth Wenig

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he would be willing to impose tariffs on countries that fail to curb the flow of undocumented immigrants into the United States if he wins the elections in November.

Trump made these remarks at an event in Arizona, a key battleground state, responding to a question from the audience. He did not specify the size of the tariffs he would impose but did take call out China in his remarks:

"We have tremendous economic power", he said, before suggesting his willingness to "tariff the hell out of that country" in reference to China.

The majority of people crossing into the U.S. illegally are from Latin America, but U.S. government data shows a sharp increase in Chinese migrants. From October 1, 2023, to April 30, 2024, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended more than 27,000 Chinese migrants attempting to cross the border illegally.

This event was Trump's first campaign appearance since a Manhattan jury on May 30 found him guilty on all 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and plans to appeal the verdict, calling the trial "rigged" during his Thursday speech.

Trump also took the opportunity to criticize President Biden's recent efforts to address illegal border crossings, including an asylum ban similar to restrictions Trump attempted to implement during his presidency.

Trump called Biden's asylum ban "outrageous" and a "concession of death and defeat" at the border, despite the policy's resemblance to his own. He said the measure won't stem the flow of migrants reaching the border and vowed to rescind it on his first day in office if re-elected. He also claimed, without evidence, that Biden's policy would result in at least 2 million "illegal alien border crossers" entering the U.S. each year.

Trump also suggested relocating U.S. troops stationed abroad to patrol the southern border. He has also proposed using local law enforcement as well as the National Guard to carry out "the largest deportation operation in American history." He has not detailed how he would secure the cooperation of local and state agencies.

In a recent interview with Time Magazine, Trump hinted at using financial incentives to gain local law enforcement support, though specifics were not provided. He also said he would give them immunity from any legal challenge that might arise as a result of their actions.

U.S. law stipulates that federal officials cannot deputize state or local law enforcement officers for federal immigration duties without the approval of the agency's head, such as a sheriff.

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