Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump had a “very nice meeting” with “very nice people” people in Mexico City Wednesday, but reiterated the American people should make no mistake: Mexico is paying for the wall.
Fresh off a whirlwind day meeting with Mexico’s president before delivering a major speech on immigration in Arizona, Trump said on “The Laura Ingraham Show” that his plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border has not changed. And it does not matter what Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and his aides say about it, Trump said.
“But eventually, they’ll pay for the wall. If I become president, they’ll pay for the wall. And I think they understand that.”
“Obviously they have to say that,” he said. “But eventually, they’ll pay for the wall. If I become president, they’ll pay for the wall. And I think they understand that. Honestly, it was a very, very nice meeting. It was a very respectful meeting.”
Trump previously said he would leverage a onetime payment from Mexico to finance the wall or would cut off a portion of the nearly $25 billion that Mexican immigrants in the United States send back home. Some experts believe that a barrier — if effective — would pay for part of the cost by saving on government services and welfare to low-income families headed by illegal immigrants.
Trump also clarified what his campaign means when it talks about a softened approach to his immigration plans.
“Oh there’s softening,” Trump said of his plan to deport illegal immigrants. “Look, we do it in a very humane way.”
“Obviously, I want to get the gang members out, the drug peddlers out. I want to get the drug dealers out. We’ve got a lot of people in this country that you can’t have, and those people will get out,” Trump said, “And then we’re going to make a decision at a later date once everything is stabilized. I think you’re going to see there’s really quite a bit of softening.”
Trump, who has been caricatured by critics as biased against Hispanics, sought to distinguish his views on immigration policy with people who have a Mexican heritage.
“I love the Mexican-Americans. As you know, I have tremendous numbers that work for me,” he said. “I’m friends with them … They’re hard workers. They’re tremendous people. No, I absolutely love them. And I think they’re great people.”
Trump said he also respects Mexico’s leaders — it’s America’s leadership he has a problem with.
“The problem we have is that they’re outsmarting our leaders … and, it’s really very much of a one-way street,” he said.
Trump also did not shy away from differences with Mexico on trade policy. The Mexican government wants the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Trump reiterated his opposition.
“We’re going to have to fight it on out. I’m opposed to it. I think it’s a terrible deal for the United States. I think it’s a terrible deal for our workers,” he said. “And Mexico will have to fight it out. But you know … I’m not fighting for Mexico. I’m fighting for Mexican-Americans. I’m fighting for the workers in this country. And I’m fighting for the United States. TPP is going to be a terrible deal.”
Trump compared it to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he blames for closed factories and laid-off industrial workers.
“I go through sections of Pennsylvania. It’s so sad,” he said. “So many of the businesses have left … It’s really bad leadership at the top. But it’s NAFTA, China taking our jobs, and you know absolutely making our product. We should be making Apple computers and Apple iPhones.”