After Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday to begin construction on the wall, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto released a firm reiteration of Mexico’s refusal to fund a U.S. border wall and then canceled plans to meet with Trump next Tuesday to discuss trade and immigration.
“This morning we told the White House we won’t attend next Tuesday’s meeting with @POTUS,” Peña Nieto wrote on Twitter in Spanish on Thursday morning, according to Politico‘s translation. “Mexico reiterates its will to work with the US to achieve agreements for both of us.”
Trump claimed later on Thursday that he and Peña Nieto had “agreed” to cancel their planned meeting in the U.S.
Peña Nieto’s message came after Trump threatened to cancel the meeting himself in a tweet earlier on Thursday.
Trump was responding to a video statement Peña Nieto posted to his Twitter Wednesday night, in which he said he “regrets and rejects” Trump’s orders cracking down on illegal immigration, and stressed: “I have said it over and over again: Mexico will not pay for any wall.”
Peña Nieto also addressed his nation, declaring that “Mexico does not believe in walls” and promising to protect Mexicans in the United States. “Where there is a Mexican migrant at risk that requires our support, your country should be there,” he said in Spanish, according to the NBC News translation. “Our communities are not alone. The Mexican Government will provide them with the legal advice, which guarantees the protection they require. The 50 Mexican consulates in the United States will become authentic advocates for the rights of migrants.”
After Trump signed executive orders Wednesday — one to begin construction on his wall (using federal funding that he has promised will be “reimbursed” by Mexico) and another to boost the U.S. Border Patrol — Peña Nieto said he was consulting with Mexican officials in Washington, D.C. to decide on “the next steps” regarding the now-canceled meeting.
“Mexico offers and demands respect as the fully sovereign nation we are,” he said, according to NBC News.
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Former Mexican President Vicente Fox put it even more bluntly to Trump’s White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Wednesday.
Spicer, traveling with the president to Philadelphia, downplayed the standoff with America’s ally to the south. Of the canceled meeting with Mexico’s Peña Nieto, Spicer told reporters aboard Air Force One: “We will look for a date to schedule something in the future. We will keep the lines of communication open.”
On the return flight to Washington later Thursday, Spicer said the administration could effectively get funding for the wall from Mexico by imposing a 20 percent tax on all imports from Mexico.