After meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto for approximately one hour today in Mexico City, Donald Trump said that while he insists on the United States “sovereign right” to build a wall along the international border between the two countries, he did not discuss who would pay for it. In meeting unprecedented for a presidential candidate, Trump flew to Mexico at the invitation of the Mexican leader.
After telling Peña Nieto that it was an honor to be invited to the Mexican capital, he focused on the flow of not only people but also weapons and drugs that pass illegally between both countries. In this, Trump reflected a view that Peña Nieto expressed in remarks that preceded Trump’s.
Trump also expressed great admiration for the Mexican people, saying the Mexicans are “amazing people” and that he is proud to say that he employs many Mexicans in his various businesses. While addressing border security, Trump also referred to economic policy that he says will make both Mexico and the United States, and the entire hemisphere, much more prosperous and free.
To do this, Trump offered five goals that he would address as president:
1) Eliminate illegal immigration, not only from Mexico, but from elsewhere in Latin America. It is a “humanitarian disaster” that must be solved, Trump said.
2) Securing the border is a “sovereign right” of the United States and Mexico.
3) Dismantling the drug cartels will address the flow of illegal drugs and weapons across the border.
4) The North American Free Trade Agreement must be improved, said Trump. Keeping industry within our hemisphere is a priority. Workers in the United States need a “pay raise” said the Republican candidate, who expressed the assurance that the US and Mexico can work “beautifully together.”
5) Keeping manufacturing in the hemisphere is also priority. The flight of manufacturing to China, he said, puts pressure on social services and on the border. “A prosperous and vibrant Mexico,” said Trump, “is in the interest of the United States.”
During a quick Q&A, Trump answered a reporter’s question by saying that he did not discuss with Peña Nieto who would pay for the construction of the promised wall along the shared border between the two countries.
For his part, Peña Nieto said in his initial remarks and during the Q&A that it is his responsibility to defend Mexico and Mexicans at home and abroad. He spoke of the role weapons and money flowing over the border from the United States has in securing the power and violence of narcotraffickers in Mexico. However, he said that remarks Trump made earlier about Mexico that have caused controversy may have been misinterpreted. The Mexican president said that he is assured that Trump seeks to benefit society in Mexico and the United States.
Trump landed at an airport in nearby Toluca and was transferred by military helicopter to an army base near the presidential palace this afternoon. He thus avoided traffic gridlock, as well as protests in Mexico City. He met Peña Nieto at Los Pinos – the presidential palace.
Campaign staff reportedly said in advance of the trip that Trump was to focus on economic, security and immigration in the meeting with Peña Nieto. The particulars of their conversation were not revealed at the subsequent press conference. Trump is due to arrive shortly in Phoenix to deliver his much-anticipated immigration speech.
In a statement today, Trump campaign adviser Tana Goetz said that Trump had “been consistent” on his proposals for border security, including the construction of a physical wall. His position is firm, Goetz said. “He is the only candidate in this race who will stop illegal immigration, secure our border, end sanctuary cities, enforce our existing laws and stop American employers from hiring illegal workers. These reforms will not only put an end to our illegal immigration epidemic — they will promote safe communities and good-paying jobs that will make America great again.”
The statement came after Trump’s critics, including some Republicans, contend that he is backing down on his promise to deport the approximately 11 million illegal aliens currently in the country. However, he though he has said that his policy will be “humane,” he has not yet renounced his deportation pledge.
Even before he landed in Mexico, Democrat Hillary Clinton was dismissive of Trump’s unprecedented move. She has, however, also been invited to Mexico by Peña Nieto. She tried to land some blows on Trump during an appearance in Ohio. “It certainly takes more than trying to make up for a year of insults and insinuations by dropping in on our neighbors for a few hours and then flying home again,” Clinton said. “That is not how it works.”
Trump has responded to Vicente Fox, a former president of Mexico, who has taken to Twitter to bash Trump. “Former President Vicente Fox, who is railing against my visit to Mexico today, also invited me when he apologized for using the ‘f bomb,’ ” Trump tweeted today. Fox shot back on Twitter today, “Stop lying! Mexico is not yours to play with, show some respect.”