Claudia Pavlovich

Claudia Pavlovich

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Sonora Gov. Claudia Pavlovich, his counterpart across the southern border in Mexico, have for several years cultivated a close relationship centered on economic interests.

But a 2016 pledge by the pair to work past the rhetoric of President Donald Trump (who at the time was the presumed GOP nominee) to create more trade between Arizona and Sonora seems to have fallen by the wayside as Ducey has backed Trump’s planned tariffs on Mexican imports as a way to force Mexico to stop migrants from entering the United States.

This marks the second time in as many months that Ducey has sided with Trump in his economic saber-rattling against Mexico. In April, the governor said he supported Trump’s threat to close down the entire U.S.-Mexico border as a way to stop the surge in Central American migrants coming to America.

This week, Pavolvich broke sharply from Ducey on the issue of tariffs. In a video posted on Twitter, the Sonoran governor said she stands behind Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who told President Donald Trump in a letter that he “can’t solve social problems with taxes or coercive measures.”

López Obrador also said tensions between the two countries should be met with dialogue, prudence and responsibility, not with confrontation.

Pavlovich agreed, stressing that Mexico and the United States are top trade partners.

“Many national interests, investments and jobs are at play,” Pavlovich said. “There are more voices that have spoken, very strongly, in favor of commerce with our country.

“Those of us who have a responsibility to govern, and who govern with responsibility, have (made) clear that dialogue and agreements benefiting citizens are above any strategy with different interests than the well-being of both countries.”

Ducey’s stance on tariffs had made him the only U.S. border-state governor to back Trump, and he also finds himself opposed to the business groups who have been among his strongest political allies since he first ran for governor in 2014. Ducey has said he prioritizes national security over commerce and supports Trump’s efforts on immigration, despite his philosophical objection to tariffs.

Ducey and Pavlovich have long appeared together and partnered on projects to promote binational trade and government relations. They have attended each other’s inaugurations. They both have promoted the Arizona-Sonora Megaregion, a project to market the two-state zone as a global, competitive place to do business – a plan that stands in direct contrast with Trump’s “America First” agenda.

Trump announced the tariffs May 30, in an attempt to strong-arm Mexico into stopping the flow of migrants arriving to the U.S.-Mexico border.

While the number of people arrested after illegally entering the U.S. through the southern border has been declining for almost two decades, the amount of large migrant family groups, mostly from Central America, who surrender themselves to border agents is unprecedented.

Between October and April, migrant minors traveling alone and parents bringing their children made up 64 percent of all border arrests. Border Patrol officials have said their national security work is undercut by the time and resources they spend on processing the children and families.

The 5-percent tariff on Mexican imports is expected to begin June 10, and Trump warned they could increase to 25 percent by October.

A delegation of Mexican government officials is in Washington, D.C., to meet with their U.S. counterparts to head off implementation of the proposed tariffs.

The Washington Post reported that, while it’s unclear what Mexico will put on the negotiating table in terms of immigration policies, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security head had three main request for Mexico: tighter security in the country’s border with Guatemala, a crack down on human smugglers who transport migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border, and an arrangement for migrants to seek asylum in Mexico instead of the U.S.  

In tweet Sunday, Trump said he wants “action, not talk.”

Meanwhile, the Post reported Tuesday that Republican senators are poised to defy Trump and block his tariffs from going into effect.

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