WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump blasted Mexico on Thursday for what he described as a one-way relationship in which the United States is disadvantaged on immigration and trade.
“Mexico, by the way, is doing nothing for us,” Trump said of the U.S. ally during a cabinet meeting at the White House.
Immigrants, he said, “walk through Mexico like it’s walking through Central Park. It’s ridiculous.”
Trump repeatedly asserted Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government could solve the immigration crisis that has enveloped Washington for weeks, but has chosen not to. Trump and Peña Nieto have traded barbs on Twitter ever since the president made a campaign pledge that Mexico would pay for his proposed border wall.
“Mexico is doing nothing for us except taking our money and sending us drugs,” Trump said. “They could solve this problem in two minutes.”
The remarks came as the White House continues to face questions over a zero-tolerance policy at the border that led to immigrant children being separated from their parents. Under criticism from members of both parties, Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to temporarily halt that practice.
Mexico, whose laws on immigration are very tough, must stop people from going through Mexico and into the U.S. We may make this a condition of the new NAFTA Agreement. Our Country cannot accept what is happening! Also, we must get Wall funding fast.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2018
Trump also used the remarks to link the stalled negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement with what he described as Mexico’s lack of response on immigration. Administration officials are expected to restart talks with Canada and Mexico over the controversial trade deal later this summer.
“One of the reasons I’m being tough is ’cause they do nothing for us at the border,” Trump said. “They encourage people, frankly, to walk through Mexico and go to the United States.”
Trump has used tough language with other long-standing allies as well, most recently Canada. The president and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau got into a public spat following the G-7 meeting in Quebec this month.
Trudeau vowed Canada wouldn’t be pushed around by the United States. In response, Trump took to Twitter to describe Trudeau as “very dishonest & weak.”