Donald Trump signed two executive orders on Wednesday that directed the construction of a wall on the US-Mexico border, boosting border patrol forces and increasing the number of immigration enforcement officers who carry out deportations.
In an interview with ABC’s David Muir, Trump kept dodging the question “are taxpayers going to be paying for the wall?” He said that Mexico would be reimbursing the U.S. for that wall in a “payment. It will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form.” He did not clarify exactly how the U.S. would be reimbursed.
On the other side of things Mexican President Enrique Peña said his country “will not pay for any wall.”
“Mexico does not believe in walls. I’ve said time again; Mexico will not pay for any wall,” he said in a video statement posted to Twitter.
Peña did not speak of the meeting he and Donald Trump are scheduled to have but said he would wait for a final report from his top officials who arrived in Washington Wednesday to meet with the Trump administration, and previous meetings with Mexican legislators, before deciding which steps he would take next.
“Mexico offers its friendship to the people of the United States and expresses its wish to arrive at agreements with its government, deals that will be in favor of Mexico and the Mexicans,” he said.
The Mexican officials that arrived to meet up with the Trump administrations are expected to lay the groundwork for Peña Nieto’s visit next week. Mexican diplomats see this as an important opportunity to get past the anti-Mexico rhetoric Trump used during the campaign and a chance to rebuild a relationship between U.S. and Mexico.
“There is … frustration with our government and ourselves that we have not been able to tell the story of this important relationship,” a Mexican diplomat told CNN ahead of the visit. “There are a lot of stereotypes of Mexicans in the US, but there are also stereotypes of Americans in Mexico. It is in the interest of both governments to explain what this relationship is and what we can do together.”
Donald Trump expects Mexico to pay for the border wall with some of the $25 billion in annual remittances that migrants return home — a project Mexico opposes and which Peña Nieto has said Mexico would never pay for.
During his presidential campaign Trump did make a visit to Mexico. Peña said that the two did discuss the wall but Trump never mentioned anything about Mexico paying for it.
“At the start of the conversation with Donald Trump, I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall,” Peña Nieto tweeted, after their meeting.