The President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto has said in an address to the nation that Mexico will not pay for Donald Trump’s border wall.
Mr. Pena said that he “lamented” the plans for the barrier, adding that “Mexico doesn’t believe in walls.” There was, however, no mention of postponing or canceling a scheduled trip to Washington on January 31 to meet the new U.S. President, Trump.
Mr. Trump signed an executive order earlier for an “impassable physical barrier” between the U.S.-Mexico borders; the order also insisted that Mexico will reimburse the U.S. for it.
In a televised address to the nation, Mr. Pena reiterated that:
“I’ve said time and again; Mexico won’t pay for any wall. I regret and condemn the decision of the United States to continue construction of a wall that, for years, has divided us instead of uniting us.”
Mr. Pena said that Mexico offers its friendship to American people and is willing to work with the U.S. government to reach accords.
He also stated that he had ordered government agencies to boost protection for immigrants. He said that 50 Mexicans Consulates in the U.S. would be used to defend the rights of the immigrants in the country. He also renewed calls to legislators and civil organizations to step up their help to the immigrants.
Luis Videgaray, Mexican Foreign Minister who is in Washington – leading a delegation that has held talks at the White House – said that the President is weighing his visit to the White House next Tuesday, but “the meeting stands” for now.
Mexican officials arrived in the U.S. on Wednesday to lay the groundwork for President’s visit next week. The Mexican diplomats see this meeting as an important opportunity to change Trump’s anti-Mexico rhetoric and bring the U.S.- Mexico relations back to normal.
Mr. Pena said that he would wait for the final report from his top officials who arrived in Washington before deciding what course of action is to be taken next.
Mr. Pena Nieto had met Mr. Trump in Mexico City when Mr. Trump was still a presidential candidate. The meeting led to Mr. Pena’s strong criticism at home, and his current approval ratings are low.
In an interview with ABC News, Mr. Trump said that “we will be reimbursed for the wall” by Mexico.
The Congress has to approve the funding of the barrier, which is estimated to cost billions of dollars.
The pledge to build a 2,000 miles fence along the Mexican border was Trump’s most highlighted commitment during the election campaign.
During a ceremony at the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday, Mr. Trump spoke about a “crisis” on the Southern U.S. borders as he signed the directives. In order to boost border patrol efforts, the orders also directed towards the hiring of 10,000 immigration officials who would carry out deportations.
“A nation without borders is not a nation. Beginning today, the United States gets back control of its borders.”