Just hours before a planned major speech on immigration on Wednesday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto that a wall to enhance the security of the Mexican-U.S. border, which runs some 2,000 miles, is “paramount.”
In a meeting with media after his quickly assembled private meeting set up at Nieto’s invitation, Trump ticked off five shared goals for the North American neighbors.
Ending illegal immigration took the No. 1 spot, and having a secure border was second.
It’s mutually beneficial, Trump said, that the nations “recognize and respect the right of either country to build a physical barrier or wall to stop the illegal movement of people, drugs and weapons” across the border.
“This shared objective of safety is paramount to both the United States and Mexico,” he said.
He immediately was castigated, however, by a commentator on Fox News for not pinning down the payment for the wall during his first meeting with Nieto.
State Department-linked David Tafuri said on Fox News that it was a “complete capitulation” on the part of Trump, who has made border security a significant issue in his campaign. He has promised to build a border wall and have Mexico pay for it, a vow that infuriated Mexican officials to the point they were using objectionable language to deny it.
See Trump’s speech:
Both Nieto and Trump described their private meeting as profitable.
Another goal for Trump was to dismantle the drug cartels and “end the movement of illegal drugs, weapons and funds across the border.”
It was earlier in President Obama’s tenure that the U.S. government allowed some 2,000 weapons to be sold to illegal purchasers and moved into Mexico to arm drug warlords. The plan had been to trace the guns to reduce the violence, but the federal agents lost track of virtually all of the weapons, many of which remain in the drug cartel ranks today.
Last was improving NAFTA, the free trade agreement that binds the nations, because it benefits Mexico much more than the U.S., and keep manufacturing “in our hemisphere.”
Trump had said in June: “I’m going tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers. And I don’t mean just a little bit better, I mean a lot better. If they do not agree to a renegotiation, then I will submit notice under Article 2205 of the NAFTA agreement that America intends to withdraw from the deal.”
Both Nieto and Trump expressed their love for their own nations and their dedication to protecting their citizens.
“As you know, I love the United States very much, and I want to make sure the people of the United States are protected,” Trump said.
“No one wins in either country when human smugglers and drug traffickers prey on innocent people, when cartels commit acts of violence, when illegal weapons and cash flow from the United States into Mexico or when migrants from Central America make a dangerous trek, and it is very very dangerous, into Mexico or the United States without legal authorization,” he said.
Trump, in response to questions after the prepared statement, confirmed he had discussed the wall with Nieto but had not discussed payment.
Nieto emphasized working together on solutions to the problems that exist in light of the many areas where cooperation has successful, such as the more than 1 million legal border crossings each day between the countries.
The Mexican president also pointed to the estimated $200 billion in trade between the countries.
Through a translator, he said: “[We] had an open and constructive discussion. The purpose of our meeting was to get to know each other and exchange visions about bilateral trade.”
Trump praised the Mexican people as “beyond reproach.”
Nieto noted he also had invited Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.