During a meeting at the G20 in Hamburg, Germany, U.S. President Donald Trump sat down with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
After brief remarks, reporters began shouting questions at the two presidents.
“Mr. Trump, do you still want Mexico to pay for the wall?” one asked.
Trump responded, “Absolutely.”
The meeting – the first between the two leaders since Trump took office – again highlighted Trump’s insensitivities toward Mexico, while Peña Nieto’s passivity brought back bad memories for many Mexicans.
Trump travelled to Mexico City when his campaign was sagging last August, and embarrassed Peña Nieto in the presidential palace by speaking publicly of his plans for fencing of the frontier. The Mexican president was fiercely criticised for failing to contradict Trump.
Building a wall along the U.S. southern border and getting Mexico to pay for it was a signature promise of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
The promise to build a wall along the US-Mexican border was a feature of Mr Trump’s presidential campaign, during which he accused Mexican immigrants of “bringing drugs” and “bringing crime”. The President claims the wall is necessary to protect against illegal immigration.
Trump’s statement was consistent with the campaign rhetoric, but not with what his administration actually has done. In March, the administration asked Congress for $4.1 billion to begin construction on additional border fencing and walls, conceding that Mexico would not be paying for it.
“It’s coming out of the Treasury,” Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, told reporters when asked who would pay for the wall. So far, that request has met with a chilly reception on Capitol Hill.