In the latest chapter of an increasingly strange saga, the Trump administration has continued to insist that Mexico will cover the costs of an enhanced border wall.
The president, speaking at a press conference alongside Finnish Prime Minister Sauli Niinisto, hammered the point he’s made since inauguration.
“One way or the other, Mexico is going to pay for the wall, that’s right,” Trump said. “It may be through reimbursement, but one way or the other, Mexico will pay for the wall.”
The commander-in-chief’s insistence comes only several days after the Mexican government issued a statement reaffirming its position since Trump took office: that it has absolutely no intention of contributing but a single peso to the wall’s construction.
Politico.com also relayed another of the president’s grievances about Mexico’s stance on NAFTA renegotiations.
The wall – always a priority for Trump – has become a larger-than-life symbol of the administration, with the president using its construction to threaten Congress.
Last week, President Trump demanded that money for the border wall be included in the federal budget for the next fiscal year. The initiative is, not surprisingly, unsupported by almost every Democratic member of Congress, as well as many Republicans.
Rather than accepting the impracticality of his proposal, Trump instead threatened to shut down the government unless funds are appropriated for his pet project.
A package proposed by the House several months ago did include a token sum for the border wall’s construction, in the order of $2 or $3 million. That amount was intended to serve as something akin to a down payment.
Experts estimate the renovation and replacement of the current set of obstacles and barriers between the United States and Mexico could cost up to $20 billion.
The president’s pressure on Congress seems to show that he’s accepted Mexico will not pay for the wall any time in the near future.
A statement issued by Mexico’s Foreign Ministry over the weekend said it would not contribute to the border wall’s funding “under any circumstances.”
“As the Mexican government has always stated, our country will not pay, under any circumstances, for a wall or physical barrier built on US territory along the Mexican border,” read the statement. “This statement is not part of a Mexican negotiating strategy, but rather a principle of national sovereignty and dignity.”
The lengthy statement concluded with an expression of solidarity with the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Offering to aid or support rescue and recovery efforts in any way possible, the Mexican government said it was more than willing to cooperate with the United States, just as “good neighbors should always do in trying times.”