Donald J. Trump had a busy Wednesday this week. He traveled early in the day to Mexico City for a meeting with Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto, before returning stateside for a much-anticipated speech in Phoenix, AZ in which he promised to detail his immigration policy in depth.
Trump’s visit to Mexico, which was announced only the day before, sparked the political sphere into speculation over how the president of Mexico would treat a candidate who has pulled few punches in his rhetoric on the ill-effects he believes illegal immigration has had on U.S. prosperity, and who has further promised to make Mexico pay for a border wall to be built along the two nations’ divide.
“President Nieto is himself quite unpopular at the moment. But no one is more unpopular than Donald Trump…Toadying to Trump would be extremely bad politics; standing up to him good politics. Put those factors together and Peña Nieto has massive and overlapping reasons to want to embarrass Trump.” – Josh Marshall, for Talking Points Memo
Others anticipated Trump would make headlines by acting off the cuff in a diplomatic setting, by gaffing or entangling bitterly with a foreign head-of-state.
A Mostly Diplomatic Exchange
After a brief meeting, the two men held a short press conference. President Peña Nieto acknowledged the two men’s differences, and stated his priority “to protect Mexican citizens wherever they are”, before conceding that he is willing to work with whoever becomes the next American president. Donald Trump expressed the importance of border protection, the renegotiation of trade agreements, and declared both nations would “win” with new and updated policies under his presidency.
By the time Mr. Trump was on his return flight to the U.S., the most damaging reports from the meeting entailed Trump’s and Peña Nieto’s apparent disagreement about whether the two men had discussed who would pay for the border wall.
“We did discuss the wall. We didn’t discuss payment of the wall. That will be for a later date,” Trump claimed at the press conference.
However, after their meeting, President Peña Nieto tweeted: “At the start of the conversation with Donald Trump, I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall.”
A More Familiar Trump
Later that same day, a rabble rousing introduction to the Trump-Pence ticket from Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani was preliminary evidence that the supporters present at the address would witness a more familiar, less diplomatic Trump.
To assuage concerns of the perceived softening of his campaign on the immigration issue, Mr. Trump delivered a harsh, and at times hyperbolic, speech unrolling a 10-point plan to crack down on illegal immigration.
Notable proposals included:
· A redoubling on his promise to build a wall along the U.S.’s southern border, paid for by Mexico.
· The creation of a safe zone in Syria for refugees to be paid for by the Gulf States.
· Tripling the number of deportation officers at the department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
· Cease issuing visas to countries where “adequate screening cannot occur”.
· Repel President Obama’s executive order granting temporary amnesty to undocumented immigrants, authorizing them to receive work permits.
Mr. Trump finished the evening by inviting the parents and relatives of American’s killed by illegal immigrants on stage to speak the names of their loved ones and endorse Trump.
“If you don’t vote Trump,” one of the women warned, “we won’t have a country.”
While Trump referred to the group as ‘Angel Moms’, a separate group by that name is unaffiliated with the relatives present at the event. The participants were from a Texas non-profit called the Remembrance Project which, according to its website, “advocates for families whose loved ones were killed by illegal aliens.”