Mexico has increased the detention and deportation of migrants in the wake of Donald Trump’s threats to slap tariffs on the country if it fails to crack down on illegal immigration to the US.

Nearly 15,000 migrants were deported in April, up from around 9,000 in March, according to government figures. The figure was even higher in May, when the number of detentions also surged past 20,000.

It comes after Mr Trump said he would impose a blanket five per cent tariff on Mexican imports on June 10 to pressure Mexico into stemming the tide of Central American migrants travelling through the country en route to America.

Foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard pushed back at the US president’s charge that Mexico was doing "nothing" to help Tuesday, as he warned that 250,000 more immigrants would reach America in 2019 without Mexico’s efforts.

Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico's foreign minister, speaks during a news conference at the Embassy of Mexico in WashingtonCredit:
Andrew Harrer /Bloomberg 

However Mexico ruled out US proposals for the country to take in all Central American asylum seekers if the idea was raised during talks with the Trump administration this week.

The idea, touted by some officials, is to designate Mexico a "safe third country," which would force those seeking asylum in America to apply for it in Mexico instead.

Mr Ebrard, in Washington for talks this week, told reporters: "They have not yet proposed it to me. But it would not be acceptable and they know it".

Since January, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s government has rapidly ramped up detentions and deportations. Recent figures show the number of migrants being deported from Mexico was 67 per cent higher in the last two months than during the same period last year. 

But that has not been enough to stop the number of migrants, mainly from Guatemala and Honduras, reaching America. 

But Mexican officials have said that tariffs could backfire, fanning further migration by hammering regional economies.

US officials say 80,000 people are being held in custody, and the more than 100,000 migrants who arrived in April are overwhelming Border Patrol officials.

Mr Trump doubled down on the threat of tariffs during a press conference with Prime Minister Theresa May in London on Tuesday. 

"We’re going to see if we can do something, but I think it’s more likely that the tariffs go on," he said, adding: "Mexico should step up and stop this onslaught, this invasion into our country".

The president warned members of his own party against any move to block the tariffs in Congress, saying: "I think if they do, it’s foolish."  

Republican senators are reportedly unhappy with Mr Trump’s tariff plans, fearing they will do huge damage to industries within their own states as well as the US economy as a whole. 

There is now the possibility that Congress could vote to disapprove the tariffs, which would likely be vetoed by the president. 

If that occurs, both the House and Senate would have to carry a two-thirds majority to beat Mr Trump. 

Republicans concerned about the overreach of presidential power previously voted with Democrats in a similar motion to block the president appropriating federal money for his border wall. 

That motion passed Congress with significant support from Republicans, although not enough to overcome Mr Trump’s veto. 

It is unclear whether enough Republicans would vote against Mr Trump in this instance, given broad support for his hard-line immigration stance. 

But with Mr Trump threatening to increase tariffs as far as 25 per cent, some senior Republicans are publicly voicing their concerns.

John Thune, a senior Republican senator, told the New York Times: “My guess is at some point if they continue down this path and they escalated the tariff, Congress is going to want to be heard from for sure.”

“I think the broader economic considerations need to be carefully considered when they are moving forward with any kind of new policy like this, something that is from our standpoint completely new and unheard-of”.

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