Wall looms large over Trump’s trip

In Mex­ico, GOP nom­i­nee and host dif­fer on if funds dis­cussed

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Noah Bierman, Tracy Wilkin­son and Kate Linthicum Kate Linthicum re­ported from Mex­ico City and Tracy Wilkin­son and Noah Bierman from Wash­ing­ton. As­so­ci­ated Press con­trib­uted.

MEX­ICO CITY — Show­cas­ing his flair for the dra­matic, Don­ald Trump flew his un­pre­dictable cam­paign to Mex­ico on Wed­nes­day and, in a hastily ar­ranged sum­mit with the coun­try’s pres­i­dent, in­sisted on build­ing a border wall and end­ing il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

The trip to a na­tion he has re­peat­edly ma­ligned was a stun­ning move for Trump, who spoke along­side Pres­i­dent En­rique Pena Ni­eto after their meet­ing. Trump con­trolled the brief news con­fer­ence, barely let Pena Ni­eto speak, and called on no Mex­i­can re­porters when he took ques­tions.

He used far more con­cil­ia­tory lan­guage than he has on the cam­paign trail, at one point re­fer­ring to Pena Ni­eto as “a friend.”

“I was straight­for­ward in pre­sent­ing my views about the im­pacts of cur­rent trade and im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies on the United States,” Trump said. “There are many im­prove­ments that could be Don­ald Trump and Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent En­rique Pena Ni­eto pre­pare Wed­nes­day to de­liver a news con­fer­ence in Mex­ico City. made that would make both Mex­ico and the United States stronger and keep in­dus­try in our hemi­sphere. A strong, pros­per­ous and vi­brant Mex­ico is in the best in­ter­est of the United States.”

Trump marched into de­cid­edly hos­tile ter­ri­tory on a trip that puz­zled and in­fu­ri­ated Mex­i­cans across po­lit­i­cal lines. He has in­spired wide­spread anger in Mex­ico, where Trump pinatas are for sale and he is fre­quently mocked on­line and in song. De­mon­stra­tors ral­lied around Mex­ico City’s gilded An­gel de la In­de­pen­den­cia statue and waved signs in English read­ing: “Trump, go home.”

In­side the pres­i­den­tial com­pound, Trump re­strained the fiery per­sona he un­leashes at cam­paign ral­lies in the U.S. Even as he in­sisted on build­ing a border wall, he said he did not raise the idea of forc­ing Mex­ico to pay for it.

“We didn’t dis­cuss pay­ment of the wall,” Trump said, adding that such a con­ver­sa­tion would come“at a later date.”

But after the news con­fer­ence, Pena Ni­eto con­tra­dicted that claim, tweet­ing that he be­gan the meet­ing with Trump by clar­i­fy­ing that Mex­ico would not pay for such a wall.

“At the be­gin­ning of the con­ver­sa­tion with Don­ald Trump, I made it clear that Mex­ico will not pay for the wall,” Pena Ni­eto tweeted in Span­ish.

At the news con­fer­ence, Pena Ni­eto re­ferred to border se­cu­rity as a “shared re­spon­si­bil­ity” — an al­lu­sion to his gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion that un­der no cir­cum­stances will it pay for a wall.

Later Wed­nes­day in his long-awaited im­mi­gra­tionpol­icy speech in Phoenix, Trump in­sisted that Mex­ico would pay for the wall.

“They don’t know it yet, but they’re go­ing to pay for” it, he said.

He also said the na­tion’s im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy must fo­cus on what is best for Amer­i­can cit­i­zens, not those liv­ing in the coun­try il­le­gally. “There is only one core is­sue in the im­mi­gra­tion de­bate and that is­sue is the well­be­ing of the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” he said.

Still, he said he in­tends to treat ev­ery­one liv­ing in the U.S. with “great dig­nity.”

Trump reaf­firmed that peo­ple in the U.S. il­le­gally can­not re­ceive le­gal sta­tus, de­spite re­cently sug­gest­ing he might be soft­en­ing his stance on im­mi­gra­tion.

He also said he would or­der the im­me­di­ate de­ten­tion of all known im­mi­grants in the U.S. il­le­gally who have been ar­rested for crimes.

At the news con­fer­ence with Trump, Pena Ni­eto em­pha­sized the need for co­op­er­a­tion, the ad­van­tages of the $500 bil­lion in com­merce the two na­tions share and po­ten­tial points of agree­ment. But he also pushed back at the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee, who launched his cam­paign last sum­mer by say­ing many Mex­i­can im­mi­grants are rapists and crim­i­nals.

“My job is to pro­tect Mex­i­cans wher­ever they are, and I will con­tinue to do that,” Pena Ni­eto told Trump, the two men stand­ing at lecterns on a stage with one flag, Mex­ico’s. “Mex­i­cans who live in the U.S. con­trib­ute to pros­per­ity there. They are peo­ple who are hon­est and hard­work­ing. They re­spect the law and de­serve the re­spect of ev­ery­one.”

Pena Ni­eto seemed to leave the door open for rene­go­ti­at­ing, or at least up­dat­ing, the land­mark North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment, which governs com­merce among Mex­ico, the U.S. and Canada. Trump, who has called NAFTA “a dis­as­ter,” is likely to seize on that open­ing to trum­pet a vic­tory and push ahead with his anti-glob­al­iza­tion cam­paign plank.


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