Trump sticks to hard immigration line after 'thoughtful' meeting with Peña Nieto
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump capped off his two-country whirlwind tour Wednesday night by doubling down on his promise to block illegal Mexican immigrants with a real wall.
Any thoughts that Trump might moderate his blunt rhetoric on immigration disappeared at a rally in Phoenix just hours after he met with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who has slammed Trump for his harsh language.
Trump promised the crowd a "serious policy address on one of the greatest issues of our time, illegal immigration" — which he then proceeded to call "worse than anybody ever realized."
Trump recited a long list of cases in which he said illegal immigrants brutally attacked U.S. citizens but were never punished or deported.
But he said Americans didn't know about them because the news media, special interests and unnamed politicians had imposed a blackout on discussion of the issue.
"In many cases," he said, illegal immigrants are "treated better than our veterans."
"Not going to happen anymore, folks," he promised. "November 8 — not going to happen anymore."
Trump made a nod to Peña Nieto, calling him a man who "loves his country, as I love my country, the United States."
"It was a thoughtful and substantive conversation, and it's going to go on for a while, and in the end, we're all going to win," he said, promising that in a Trump presidency, he'd pursue "a new relationship between our two countries."
But the overall tone of the speech appeared to clash with the conciliatory comments Trump made at a news conference with Peña Nieto after their meeting.
To make sure everyone knew he'd changed nothing about his position, he declared: "We are going to build a great wall along the southern wall, and Mexico is going to pay for the wall. One hundred percent. They don't know it yet."
Construction on the wall, he said, will begin on "Day One." It will be "physical, impenetrable, beautiful (and) tall," he promised, and it will be monitored by sensors above and below ground.
But Peña Nieto tweeted later that payment for the proposed wall was actually the first topic of discussion. Specifically, he said, "I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall."
Foreign Affairs Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu soon followed up, tweeting: "In meeting, the President @EPN was strong in that Mexico does not pay by the wall. Position not negotiable."