Mexico’s president said Sunday that there is “no way” his country would ever pay for a wall between it and the United States.
In a wide-ranging interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Enrique Peña Nieto shot down Donald Trump’s campaign promise that he’s going to build a wall and Mexico will foot the bill.
Peña Nieto stressed that economic and social prosperity on both sides of the border relies on a firm relationship between Mexico and the United States.
“We also have to bear in mind that the security of the United States is linked with the security of its neighboring countries,” he said. “And this is what we have built. And I’ll say it again, this is what we have been doing with the U.S. government. We have a relationship of coordination, of collaboration and of cooperation in the area of security, precisely in order to have security in Mexico, to have security in the U.S. and … we are journey companions. We are strategic partners working for security in North America.”
“There is no way that Mexico can pay [for] a wall like that,” he said.
Zakaria asked the Mexican president how he felt about the presumptive Republican nominee’s characterization of Mexicans.
In New York in June 2015, while announcing his run for president, Trump said: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
“I cannot agree with such a generalization for Mexicans,” said Peña Nieto. “There is no way to agree with comments like these which describe all Mexicans in such a way.”
There are criminals in every country, the leader said, and “we need to fight and apply the full extent of the law” in bringing those people to justice.
But Mexico and the United States are “largely integrated” with one another.
“Not many people know, for instance, that every single day, 1 million people cross the border between Mexico and the U.S. and they do it legally — every single day — one million people cross the border from the U.S. into Mexico and from Mexico into the U.S.,” the President said.
Commerce between the nations is critical, he said. More than 370,000 trucks and cars cross the borders.
While there has been intense rhetoric used during the presidential campaigns about immigration, the Pew Research Center has found that over the past decade Mexican migration to the United States has slowed dramatically.
From 1965 to 2015, more than 16 million Mexicans migrated to the United States in one of the largest mass migrations in modern history, according to Pew. But over the past decade, Mexican migration has slowed dramatically. Today, Mexico increasingly serves as a land bridge for Central American immigrants traveling to the United States.
Pew reports that more Mexicans left than came to the United States since the end of the Great Recession. Between 2009 and 2014, 870,000 Mexican nationals left Mexico to come to America, down from the 2.9 million who left Mexico between 1995 and 2000.
Peña Nieto stressed that he is “respectful on the democratic process” taking place in the United States now as the country elects its next president.
“I believe that any of the candidates, Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump, I’m sure that both of them would like to build good conditions and better wellness for their people,” he said. “We are very respectful to whomever is elected. We want to build a positive and constructive relation among Mexico and to whomever becomes president of United States.”