(BREAKING 911) — Trump spokesman Sean Spicer added a stunning new detail about the proposed wall project later Thursday, saying that Trump intended to pay for it by imposing a 20-percent tax on all imports from Mexico.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto had been scheduled to meet with Trump on Tuesday to discuss immigration, trade and drug-war cooperation. He called off the visit after Trump tweeted that it would be “better to cancel the upcoming meeting” if Mexico was unwilling to pay for the wall.
Trump’s moves have rekindled old resentments in Mexico, a country that during its history has often felt bullied and threatened by its wealthier, more powerful neighbor. The legacy of heavy-handed U.S. behavior – which includes invasions and the seizure of significant Mexican lands — has mostly been played down by a generation of Mexican leaders who have pursued pragmatic policies and mutual economic interests with both Republican and Democratic U.S. administrations.
Both Peña Nieto and Spicer said that their countries were interested in maintaining positive relations. “We will keep the lines of communication open,” Spicer told reporters in Washington on Thursday morning, adding that the White House would “look for a date to schedule something in the future.” The Mexican president tweeted that his government was willing to work with the United States “to reach agreements that benefit both nations.”
But Mexicans expressed shock and dismay as Trump moved to turn his campaign promises into reality.
Mexicans view a wall across the 2,000-mile border as a symbolic affront, part of a package of Trump policies that could cause the country serious economic pain. They include a crackdown on illegal immigrants, who send billions of dollars home, and renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. The treaty has allowed trade between the neighbors to mushroom. Every day, $1.4 billion in goods ccross the U.S.-Mexico border, and millions of jobs are linked to trade on both sides. Mexico is the second largest customer for American-made products in the world, and 80 percent of Mexican exports – automobiles, flat screen TVs, avocados – are sold to the United States.
“When we are talking about building a wall, about deporting migrants, about eliminating sanctuary cities [for migrants], about threatening to end a free trade agreement, or to take away factories, we are really talking about causing human suffering,” Margarita Zavala, a possible candidate for the presidency in 2018 and the wife of former president Felipe Calderon, said in an interview. “And after today, without a doubt, it is very difficult to negotiate from behind a wall.”