Republican nominee Donald Trump met with Mexican President Peña Nieto, accepting his invitation ahead of his major speech on immigration later tonight. It’s Trump’s first visit to a foreign country as the Republican Party’s standard-bearer.
In a press conference, which lasted just 33 minutes, President Nieto said that he and Trump had an open and honest discussion about a whole host of issues. He added that the North American Free Trade Agreement certainly has room for improvement when discussing free trade.
Nieto also said that the next president will find an ally in Mexico, and that they will accept and respect the election results come November. Touching upon illegal immigration, the Mexican president noted that illegal immigration from his country peaked a decade ago and has steadily declined, though he acknowledged that non-Mexicans have been going through his country to reach the United States; the mass surge from unaccompanied minors from Central America is a prime example. President Nieto also noted the border crisis he faces coming from the United States, citing thousands of weapons and millions of dollars flowing into Mexico that helps bolster the many drug cartels that dot the country.
He said that we need an integral approach at the border to stem the flow of illegal immigration, drugs, guns, and money. Nieto said he’s made progress on the border with the current Obama administration.
We have made progress on the border with President Obama, and declared that the new American administration can expect willingness and cooperation to make the border safer.
He closed by saying that as president of Mexico, he has a responsibility to protect his citizens wherever they may be. That’s a responsibility he takes with passion. Nieto mentioned how Mexican-Americans are honest, hardworking people who deserve respect. Let’s work to make sure our cooperation is conducted with mutual respect when addressing the issues both our nations face.
Trump then thanked the Mexican president, saying it was an honor to be in his country. He said they has a serious dialogue about the impact of free trade, the half trillion dollars in annual trade that’s conducted, and the vast number of illegal border crossings that occur every day.
The Republican nominee said that the United States and Mexico share a common interest in keeping our hemisphere safe and prosperous. He said that the Mexican people are amazing, he employs many of them, and that they’re beyond reproach, with their emphasis on the values of faith, family, and community. Trump also acknowledged that it’s a very dangerous trek for those who are traveling thousands of miles to enter the United States—and that taking on drug cartels and human traffickers is a mutual interest.
Trump also said that he shared his views on NAFTA, adding that he told Nieto that he feels the free trade agreement has been better for Mexico than the U.S. He listed five things that can bring more prosperity and happiness to both nations.
- Ending illegal immigration, especially from Central and South America that impacts Mexico and the United States. This is a humanitarian disaster, where abuse on innocent people by gangs and cartels are unacceptable. It’s not fair anywhere. It must be solved quickly.
- Having a secure border is a sovereign right and mutually beneficial for both countries. We respect the right of either country to build a wall, or physical barrier, to stop the flow of illegal immigration, drugs, and weapons.
- Dismantling the drug cartels and ending the movement of illegal drugs, weapons, and funds from hopping across our border. Only can be done with joint operations with our respective law enforcement agencies, along with information and intelligence sharing as well
- Improving NAFTA. It’s a 22-year-old agreement that must be updated. We face tremendous competition from around the world, especially from China. We must improve pay standards and working conditions.
- Keep manufacturing wealth in our hemisphere. When jobs leave Mexico and the U.S., it increases poverty and burdens the welfare state.
Trump closed by saying that the bonds between our nations are deep and sincere, and that both countries benefit from strong relations. A strong, prosperous, and vibrant Mexico is in the best interests of the United States.
It’s quite the turn for Trump who pretty much framed our southern neighbor as an enemy when he first announced his presidential campaign last year. Mexico is our third largest trade partner, with whom we share a 1,989-mile long border. We also had a $60 billion trade deficit with them last year.
Be sure to read Guy’s take on this trip here, where he says Trump’s Mexican excursion was a smart move.
On MSNBC, Jose Diaz-Balart made a note that Nieto is deeply unpopular in Mexico, which was after Nicole Wallace said that while Trump’s remarks lacked substance—it showed that he could hold his own on the international stage.
There wasn't a discussion about payment for a wall.
BREAKING: Trump says he and Pena Nieto discussed his call for border wall, but did not talk about his insistence Mexico pay for it.— The Associated Press (@AP) August 31, 2016
Editor's Note (Matt): The original post said that a discussion about a wall payment occurred. It did not...I misheard. Post has been updated to reflect the changes. Sorry folks...