Donald Trump meets with president of Mexico, discusses free trade, immigration
It's no secret that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has taken a hard line on immigration. He has repeatedly boasted in stump speeches around the United States that he will make Mexico pay for a wall along the southern U.S. border to separate the nations. The porous border is a cause of contention between the United States and Mexico because there are an estimated 10 million undocumented Mexican citizens living and working in the United States illegally, according to Business Insider.
When Trump actually met with Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto during a private meeting on Wednesday, his tone was less contentious and more diplomatic. During the meeting, Trump and Nieto discussed hot-button issues such as immigration and free trade. After the meeting, Trump and Nieto hosted a joint press conference at the Mexican presidential residence. During the press conference, which has been called tense by some such as Yahoo News, Trump called Nieto a “friend” and repeated some of what had been discussed during the private meeting.
Trump said he sees the U.S.-Mexico relationship as imbalanced, and he wants to work to right that situation.
According to Business Insider, Trump declared, "No one wins in either country when human smugglers and drug traffickers prey on people, when cartels commit acts of violence," Trump said during the conference. "I shared my strong view that [the North American Free Trade Agreement] has been a far greater benefit to Mexico than it has to the United States, and it has to be improved so that workers in the United States can benefit."
Nieto respectfully disagreed with Trump’s assessment of the situation at the press conference.
He said NAFTA benefits both nations and that the number of Mexican immigrants to the United States has been on the decline for the past decade. Nieto said he provided Trump with a platform to air his grievances because he believes in the power of free and open dialogue.
"Any close relationship needs to be visited and renewed from time to time and see what has worked and what hasn't," Nieto said to the audience of reporters at the press conference, according to Business Insider. "Even if we do not agree on everything, I trust that together we will be able to find prosperity and security."
According to Yahoo News, since the press conference, the Mexican press has blasted Nieto for his position. In a town-hall-style meeting before his state-of-the-nation report on Thursday, Nieto said he stands by his decision to meet with Trump. He said Trump’s ideas “represent a threat to the future of Mexico,” but “it was necessary to talk. It was necessary to make him feel and know why Mexico does not accept his positions."