Donald Trump called on both Mexico and the US to work together to solve the problem of illegal immigration, but he also clarified that there was no talk of who would pay for “the wall” when he met with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Referring to President Nieto as “a friend” in his speech, the Republican presidential nominee stressed the “deep roots” that bond both nations. Trump reiterated his concerns surrounding trade and immigration, but spoke of them in terms of shared interests.
“There’s a lot of value that can be created by both countries working beautifully together, and that, I’m sure, will happen.”
President Nieto spoke first during their shared press conference, and with a slight disclaimer, noted the “common ground” shared with Trump.
“Our border must be viewed as a joint opportunity,” Nieto said. “Both countries must invest more into it.”
“Mr. Trump,” Nieto also said, “I would like to reiterate what I mentioned to you in private. My priority is to protect Mexicans, wherever they may be. That is my responsibility, and I shall continue to abide by it with great passion.”
“Mexicans deserve everyone’s respect,” he added.
Trump opened his remarks, calling the meeting “a great, great honor.”
“I was straightforward on my views of the impact of trade and immigration,” Trump said, acknowledging the nations’ shared 2,000-mile border, trillions of dollars in annual trade, and millions of illegal border crossings “everyday.”
Trump added that he had “tremendous feelings for Mexican-Americans,” including the “tremendous numbers I employ, and they are amazing people.”
Trump spoke on the issue of illegal immigration as a continental issue, recognizing that many who cross into the US illegally through Mexico come from throughout Central and South America.
Trump expressed a similar outlook on dismantling drug cartels, with the “cooperation” and “intelligence sharing” of Mexico.
On the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, both Trump and Nieto showed willingness to renegotiate portions of the trade deal, with Trump saying “many improvements” could be made.