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Arizona political figures react to Trump’s plan to place tariffs on Mexico

President Donald Trump speaks during the 2019 United States Air Force Academy Graduation Ceremony at Falcon Stadium, Thursday, May 30, 2019, at the United States Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

PHOENIX — Arizona political figures shared their thoughts this week on President Donald Trump’s announcement Thursday that he plans to impose 5% tariffs on all Mexican imports beginning June 10.

Republican U.S. Sen. Martha McSally said she does not support the tariffs.

“Mexico is Arizona’s No. 1 trading partner, accounting for over $16 billion in 2018 alone,” the senator said in a statement.

“While I support the president’s intention of stopping unchecked illegal immigration, I do not support these types of tariffs, which will harm our economy and be passed onto Arizona small businesses and families.”

McSally called for Mexico to step up law enforcement on the border and for Congress to pass her legislation focused on closing immigration loopholes.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said while he also opposes tariffs, he considers the “humanitarian crisis at the border” to be a higher priority than the money it may cost the U.S. He said it’s “long past time for Congress to act” on border security.

Ducey also said he talked to the White House and reached out to Mexican leaders on Thursday.

Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, did not hold back his disdain for the plan.

“It’s the worst idea I’ve heard this year,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday. “Mexico is a friend and ally and we’ve made incredible progress in the renegotiation of NAFTA through the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and this could easily flush all of that great work right down the toilet.”

Hamer questioned the timing of the plan as well for multiple reasons. One involves the USMCA, which he said “could be the best trade agreement in the history of the country” but the tariffs could lead to it falling apart.

The other is the trade war with China.

“We’re in a trade war with China and we’re going to do something that’s going to be offensive to a friend and ally?” Hamer said. “It really makes no sense; it’s baffling.”

The Arizona House Democrats on Friday issued a statement from Rep. Charlene Fernandez, the party leader in the chamber, criticizing the tariffs and Ducey’s response to them.

“It appears Trump just wants to change the subject from his potential impeachment to a manufactured humanitarian crisis at the border,” Fernandez said.

“For Gov. Ducey to side with an increasingly reckless president rather than defend the economic interests of his own state and hardworking Arizonans is extremely disappointing.”

U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a southern Arizona Democrat, criticized Trump’s announcement over Twitter and called his business acumen into question.

“I thought you were a businessman, @realDonaldTrump?” Kirkpatrick tweeted. “This is a horrible policy and will have devastating impacts on our local economy.”

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, a Phoenix Democrat, called Trump’s decision “reckless.”

“Trump’s reckless tariff decision that puts the lives and jobs of Arizona’s workers and their families at stake removes any pretense that he cares about anything other than exacerbating the border crisis and exploiting it for political gain,” Grijalva said on Twitter.

“Asylum seekers, children, the economy, and American values are simply disposable pawns in his cruel game.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs told Fox Business that the he supports the president’s decision, which is the result of Congress’ inaction.

“The bottom line is, if you really believe that it’s a crisis and it’s an emergency on the border… then you have to take drastic actions,” Biggs said.

“This won’t be easy for either county, but Mexico is facilitating the crossing of their country by literally thousands of (migrants).”

Mark Kelly, a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in Arizona, spoke out against Trump’s plan.

“We need Mexico to be a partner in trade and in dealing with immigration and border security, and this is the completely wrong approach,” he said in a statement. “The burden of these tariffs will be felt by Arizona businesses, workers, and consumers – it is an outright attack on Arizona’s economy.”

KTAR News 92.3’s Taylor Kinnerup contributed to this report.

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