The Citizen (KZN)

‘US-Mexico wall a non-starter’


- Washington

Migration again an explosive election campaign issue.

Republican Donald Trump’s mantra that the United States-Mexico border should be walled off is a non-starter, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said in an interview broadcast on Sunday, reiteratin­g his view that only huge US foreign policy changes will stem illegal migration.

Asked by CBS’ 60 Minutes whether Trump, if elected in November, would build the promised wall, Lopez Obrador said: “No. It doesn’t work.”

Speaking through a translator, the president said when Trump was last in office – and seeking to build a wall – he highlighte­d for his US counterpar­t that smugglers had been able to dig tunnels under barriers already in place.

Trump “stayed quiet and then he started laughing and told me, ‘I can’t win with you’,” Lopez Obrador said.

His remarks on Trump, as well as Joe Biden, come as the two US political foes face a rematch of their 2020 bout, with illegal immigratio­n once again an explosive campaign issue.

Trump and his Republican party have attempted to bludgeon Biden over recent record numbers of migrants crossing the southern US border, while the Democrat faces backlash in his own camp over negotiatio­ns to tighten immigratio­n policy.

Lopez Obrador, 70, said that after a request from Biden, he helped to secure a temporary dip early this year in the surge of undocument­ed migrants trying to get into the United States.

He said that was partly due to Mexico being “more careful” about its own southern border and that he had enlisted the help of Central American leaders.

“However, that is a short-term solution, not a long-term one,” he said, adding that Mexico wanted “the root causes to be attended to, for them to be seriously looked at”.

Lopez Obrador has told the White House that Washington should spend billions each year to alleviate poverty in Latin America, ease sanctions on the far-left government­s in Venezuela and Cuba and grant legal status to millions of Mexicans living in the United States.

Without such sweeping reforms, though, “the flow of migrants will continue,” Lopez Obrador said.

Responding to growing Republican demands for the border to be closed off as an emergency solution, Lopez Obrador cited the economic dependency each country has for the other. –

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