“Today, the U.S. president signed two executive orders relevant to our country,” Peña Nieto said in a video statement he released on his social media accounts Wednesday night. Peña Nieto, himself, is under pressure at home to cancel a scheduled trip to Washington next week.
“I regret and reproach the decision of the United States to build a wall that for many years, far from uniting us, has divided us. Mexico does not believe in walls. I’ve said it many times before — Mexico will not pay for a wall,” he said.
Peña Nieto also highlighted Trump’s pledge to control migration into the U.S., reassuring Mexicans that their government will offer the protection Mexican immigrants require when they are in the United States. “I’ve ordered the Secretary of Exterior Affairs to reinforce the safety measures for our co-nationals. The 50 Mexican embassies will become authentic legal defense for immigrants,” Peña Nieto added.
He referenced the unfortunate timing of the executive orders, which came on the same day Mexican officials were in talks with the Trump administration in Washington, D.C., in a negotiation that is “very important for the strength, security, and future” of Mexico.
“As President of the Republic, I take on the full responsibility of defending and watching over the interests of Mexico and its people,” he said.
“Mexico offers and demands respect, like the completely sovereign nation that we are. Mexico extends its friendship with the American people and their will to reach agreements with their government, agreements that will be in favor of Mexico and its people,” he concluded.
Peña Nieto’s statement came less than an hour prior to a pre-taped appearance by Trump on ABC where he once again insisted that Mexico would pay for a border wall.
“All it is is, we’ll be reimbursed at a later date from whatever transaction we’d make from Mexico,” he said. “We’re gonna be starting those negotiations relatively soon, and we will be in a form reimbursed by Mexico, which I’ve always said.”
The president also laid out a potential timeline for the construction of the wall, saying it would only take “months.”
“I would say in months, yeah. I would say in months,” he said of the building process. “Certainly, planning is starting immediately.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan said earlier Wednesday during an interview on MSNBC that he agreed with Trump’s goal of securing the Southern U.S. border and that the “wall is a big part of that,” while acknowledging that Congress would foot the initial bill for its construction.
“We’re going to pay for it and front the money,” he said. “The president said he’s going to get reimbursed one way or the other and we accept that. Meantime, we do have to pay our bills.”
Trump announced two executive orders on immigration Wednesday, saying their enforcement “will save thousands of lives, millions of jobs and billions and billions of dollars.”
Among the measures included in the actions were the immediate construction of a wall to stop illegal immigration, the prompt deportation of immigrants who have been ordered to leave the country, crackdown on “sanctuary cities,” and the construction of detention facilities along the border.