Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has a message for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump about his proposed border wall: If you build it, it's on America's dime.
On July 11, Pena Nieto sat down with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria to discuss the U.S.-Mexico relationship and how it could be altered by the 2016 presidential election.
Trump has proposed constructing a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in order to plug any incoming illegal immigration and has repeatedly declared that he would compel the Mexican government to pay for the project.
The Mexican president indicated that he would have to respect whatever steps Trump would take if he were elected president, but held firm that Mexico is not footing the bill.
"There is no way that Mexico can pay [for] a wall like that," he said. “But any decisions inside the United States is a decision of its government.”
One of Pena Nieto’s predecessors, former Mexican President Vicente Fox, had a less diplomatic stance on Trump’s proposed border wall.
“I’m not going to pay for the f—ing wall,” Fox told Fusion in February 2016. The former president added that U.S. taxpayers shouldn’t pay for the border wall either, asserting that Trump “should pay for it.”
Pena Nieto instead emphasized that the U.S. and Mexico share a special relationship of commerce and security concerns, describing the two countries as “strategic partners working for security in North America.”
The Mexican president did chastise Trump’s characterization of Mexicans in June 2015, when he described migrants from America’s neighbor as “people that have lots of problems… They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
“I cannot agree with such a generalization for Mexicans,” said Pena Nieto. “There is no way to agree with comments like these which describe all Mexicans in such a way.”
Instead of viewing Mexico as a problematic neighbor leaking criminality into the U.S., Pena Nieto called for Americans to recognize that both the U.S. and his country are linked by commerce and cooperation.
“Not many people know, for instance, that every single day, 1 million people cross the border between Mexico and the U.S. and they do it legally — every single day — 1 million people cross the border from the U.S. into Mexico and Mexico into the U.S.,” Pena Nieto said.
When it comes to the 2016 presidential election, Pena Nieto stressed that Mexicans “want to build a positive and constructive relation among Mexico and to whomever becomes president of the United States.”
Trump’s proposed border wall was recently criticized by Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, The Hill reports.
On July 3, Flake told radio host John Catsimatidis that while he was concerned about illegal immigration and drug trafficking across the border, Trump’s proposed wall “isn’t very feasible, or advisable.”