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After One Week, Donald Trump Has Soured Relations With Mexico

Yesterday, President Trump signed an Executive Order on immigration that, among other things, ordered planning to proceed for construction of the border wall that was a central part of his campaign for President. Trump’s promise, of course, wasn’t just that he would build a border wall but that Mexico would pay for it, something that he repeated in an interview with ABC News even as Mexico’s President reaffirmed his pledge that his nation will not pay for the wall at all and House Speaker Paul Ryan admitted that, at least initially, Congress would allocate money for construction of the wall which Mexico would later reimburse to the United States notwithstanding the promise of the Mexican President and pretty much every other national politician in Mexico City. Now, as Michael Bailey has noted, Mexico’s President has canceled a planned meeting in Washington:

The president of Mexico said on Thursday that he was canceling his scheduled meeting with President Donald J. Trump in Washington next week, rejecting the visit after the new American leader ordered a border wall between the two nations.

The move by Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, brings to a head the simmering tensions that have been building for months between the two nations. After calling for dialogue in the face of Mr. Trump’s vows to build a wall, Mr. Peña Nieto ultimately bowed to public pressure in Mexico to respond more forcefully to his northern neighbor.

The decision to cancel the meeting was the result of a remarkable back-and-forth between the two sparring leaders, much of it delivered on Twitter.

On Wednesday, the new American president signed an executive order to beef up the nation’s deportation force and start construction on a new wall along the border.

Adding to the perceived insult was the timing of the order: It came on the first day of talks between top Mexican officials and their counterparts in Washington, and just days before the meeting between the two presidents.

Mr. Trump’s action was enough to prompt Mr. Peña Nieto to start discussing whether to scrap his plans to visit the White House, according to Mexican officials. In a video message delivered over Twitter on Wednesday night, Mr. Peña Nieto reiterated his commitment to protect the interests of Mexico and the Mexican people, and chided the move in Washington to continue with the wall.

“I regret and condemn the United States’ decision to continue with the construction of a wall that, for years now, far from uniting us, divides us,” he said.

Then on Thursday morning, Mr. Trump fired back, warning that he might cancel the meeting himself if Mexico did not agree to pay for the wall.

(…)

Historians said that not since President Calvin Coolidge threatened to invade a “Soviet Mexico” had the United States so deeply antagonized the Mexican populace.

“It is an unprecedented moment for the bilateral relationship,” said Genaro Lozano, a professor at the Iberoamerican University in Mexico City. “In the 19th century, we fought a war with the U.S.; now we find ourselves in a low-intensity war, a commercial one over Nafta and an immigration war due to the measures he just announced.”

The cancellation of President Nieto’s trip comes as no surprise, really. Trump has been an exceedingly unpopular figure in Mexico ever since he compared Mexican immigrants to criminals and rapists and accused the Mexican Government of deliberately sending its criminal population to the United States in the speech that kicked off his campaign in June 2015. Trump’s reputation only got worse as he began to campaign on the idea of constructing a border wall on the southern border which, he claimed, he would get Mexico to pay for, a promise that prompted Nieto and other Mexican politicians to immediately denounce him. After Trump became the Republican nominee for President, he took a trip to Mexico City and met with President Nieto at a meeting that both described publicly a cordial but which later reports indicated became tense when Nieto made clear to Trump face-to-face that his country would never pay for the border wall. Nieto faced quite a bit of blowback at home for meeting with Trump at all, and that was only amplified when it was announced that he would be among the first foreign leaders to meet with Trump after Inauguration Day. Once Trump signed the Executive Order yesterday, the pressure on Nieto to cancel the meeting apparently grew to the point where he felt he had no other choice but to cancel the meeting. No doubt, the fact that Nieto’s own popularity in Mexico is quite low at the moment, apparently partially in response to his initial meeting with Trump during the campaign in the United States, also played a role in this decision.

In all likelihood, this meeting will be rescheduled for some date in the future after the controversy over the border wall has died down. The relationship between the United States and Mexico is simply too important for both countries for it not to take place at some point. At the same time, though, it’s difficult to see right now how that meeting is going to be pulled off in a way that allows Nieto to save face with his people and not appear to be caving to Trump in any way. As for Trump’s wall, it now appears that the promise that Mexico will pay for the wall is about as flexible as Trump’s critics assumed it would be. Originally, Trump led his supporters to believe that Mexico “paying” for the wall meant that we’d see a transfer of funds from Mexico to the United States for the cost of the wall, as absurd as that sounds. Since then, he has dialed back in his claims saying in interviews that paying for the wall might be accomplished via tariff increases or intercepting money transfers between Mexico and the United States. As I’ve noted before, though, both of those ideas are fundamentally flawed. Tariff increases, for example, would be specifically barred by the North American Free Trade Agreement and would end up primarily being paid by consumers in the United States who buy goods made or produce grown in Mexico. Money transfers, on the other hand, generally involve the transfer of funds between private individuals in the United States and Mexico. Any effort to intercept those would no doubt be the subject of numerous legal actions both here and in Mexico. Now, the plan seems to be to engage in some accounting trick involving aid to Mexico that redirects money toward the wall, but that would still mean that the American taxpayer is paying for the wall. What is clear, though, is that Mexico will not be paying for the wall, and that the real cost of the wall could end up being the souring of a relationship with our neighbor to the south that has been beneficial for both nations.

Nice work for the first week in office, Donald.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. David M says:

    We share a large border with them and they are our 3rd largest trading partner. Why would we want to get along with them?

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  2. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Meantime Paul Ryan and Turtle-Face are clear that you and I are going to pay for this ridiculous nonsense.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday that Congress will pay $12 billion to $15 billion for a border wall upfront, dodging questions about whether they will offset the cost with spending cuts.

    Keep in mind that they claim to be fiscal conservatives. Yeah…turns out Republicans are just afraid of anyone who isn’t lilly-white.
    If Hobby-Lobby can opt out of contraceptive coverage, can I claim a religious objection to wasting money on this stupidity?

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  3. CSK says:

    Here’s what the Trumpkins are saying: Pena Nieto will come crawling back with a check in his hand, begging Trump to accept payment. Anyway, we don’t need Mexico.

    Yeah, they believe that.

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  4. Alex says:

    Note that calling him “President Nieto” is incorrect. Mexican practice is to use both parents’ family names, with the father’s family name coming first and the mother’s family name second. So the most correct way of referring to him would be “President Peña Nieto” (note that the NYTimes calls him “Mr. Peña Nieto”) or, if you must shorten it to one last name only, it would be “President Peña”, since Peña is his father’s family name.

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  5. Pch101 says:

    @CSK:

    I have no particular love for Mexico and I’m not even a fan of NAFTA, but I’m on Mexico’s side for this one.

    If the Mexicans are smart, they’ll get another German automaker to locate a plant there, then brag about it on Twitter.

    (No need to mention Trump by name, but the point will have been made. And since it would appear that a EU-US trade agreement is not going to happen, the odds of such a plant being scored is better than it was prior to November.)

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  6. grumpy realist says:

    Also it’s been pointed out that Mexico doesn’t have to do anything to up the pressure the other way–just stop policing all the drugs which are making their way North, stop any policing on U.S-related terrorism–basically, just stop cooperating with us.

    I think Lil Donald thinks that Mexico is a beach somewhere with sun and sand and a place where they sell drinks with little umbrellas in them. He doesn’t realize that it’s an actual country.

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  7. KM says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    If Hobby-Lobby can opt out of contraceptive coverage, can I claim a religious objection to wasting money on this stupidity?

    Since there is quite a bit of documentation and tradition regarding sacred hospitality, somebody definitely should try. The Abrahamic religions (since lets face it, that’s all repubs care about) is very clear that we are to welcome the stranger and go to great length on how we should treat our neighbors. A good lawyer could try and make that case that it’s a violation of your sincerely held beliefs and practicing faith. Double points if we can get the ACLU to do it so fake Christians will have to bite their tongue in supporting religious freedom.

    Any bored lawyers on here up for the challenge?

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  8. Paul L. says:

    From Yesterday:

    At best it’s evidence you don’t like Mexicans, although I’m not sure that it was necessary for you to share that.

    Remember that
    Mexican Citizens are entitled to be granted all US citizens Rights.

    “I respectfully suggest that the government of Mexico presents a lawsuit at the United Nations against the US government for violation of human rights and racial discrimination.”

    US Citizens are entitled no Rights in Mexico.

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  9. grumpy realist says:

    Oh, and Trump’s Mini-Me Spicer has been sent out to say that we’re going to get Mexico to pay for the wall by….get this….imposing a 20% tariff on all imports from Mexico.

    Is this critter actually trying to get thrown out of office? That’s the only conclusion I can now come to.

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  10. Paul L. says:

    @grumpy realist:
    #Fake News like “The State Department’s entire senior management team of foreign service officers just resigned” Narative.
    Folks, Spicer didn’t say the import tax would apply solely to Mexico.

    Here’s what Spicer said, per the pool report. This is basically the border adjustment tax congressional Rs want

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  11. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Paul L.:
    I think we have all figured out that you are a complete bigot.
    You may go back to the hole you crawled out of now.
    It’s clear you have nothing constructive, or intelligent, to add.

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  12. Paul L. says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:
    Please refute this statement without name calling.
    US Citizens have no Rights in Mexico.

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  13. bill says:

    yeah, we need mexico more than they need us…..gimme a f’n break. an alleged country that can’t govern it’s people let alone protect them from the cartels that actually run the country.
    maybe we should import more of them, so we can be like them? how’s those panties bunching up kids?

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  14. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Paul L.:

    US Citizens have no Rights in Mexico.

    And what is your point? We also have no rights in Russia but you are still all puckered up to give Vlad a big ol’ rimjob. Fickle, ain’t ya?
    In America we believe all peoplehave certain inalienable rights given by some mythical creator, and not by the state. Why do you hate America so?

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  15. KM says:

    @Paul L. :

    And these things are reciprocal. Nobody that gets slapped with a tax like that will not impose something similar or worse. Meanwhile, China can slide in, offer the same product cheaper (even with the increase) and hasn’t pissed off said country. Who would you do business with then: the idiot expensive American who’s trying to punish you or the Chinese guy offering you a great deal? If we “let the market decide”, we’re not going to win.

    Can you afford an extra 20% on your goods? Keep in mind, this also means parts for cars so even cars Made in America will be more expensive. This is going to gut small town America since they can’t afford the price hike. No jobs *and* no goods, that’s MAGA for you!

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  16. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @bill:

    yeah, we need mexico more than they need us…..gimme a f’n break.

    Fighting strawmen again, bill?

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  17. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @KM:
    See…now you are asking Paul L. to do complex thinking…good luck with that. He has trouble with the Dear Leaders 140 word tweets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Argon says:

    Stock up on tequila….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. grumpy realist says:

    @Paul L.: Here you are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Paul L. says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:
    I do not like being lectured by Hypocrites.
    The Corrupt Mexican Government has no moral authority to tell the US how to police the borders so they can send their poor here..

    “All people have certain inalienable rights ”
    Such as?
    Speech that is not Hate Speech? Right to self defense?

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  21. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Paul L.:

    The Corrupt Mexican Government has no moral authority to tell the US how to police the borders so they can send their poor here..

    they are not telling HOW to police the borders.
    They are simply saying they AREN’T GOING TO PAY for Trumps stupid idea…ridiculous nonsense that you are not smart enough to recognize as such.
    You seem to have a hard time with very basic concepts.
    So you think taxing Mexico, Canada, and China 20% on imports is a good idea?
    Welcome to the next recession.
    Moron.

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  22. Joe says:

    I am going to buy still-cheap avocados before Super Bowl Sunday.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @grumpy realist:
    Actually Paul L. is right…Trump is suggesting that we tax Mexico, Canada, and China (anyone we have a trade deficit with) 20% on all imports.
    Of course, you and I will pay that 20% one way or another. I hope you don’t like guacamole or tequila.
    These people…the Trump administration and it’s sycophants…are amongst the dumbest on the planet…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. al-Alameda says:

    @bill:

    yeah, we need mexico more than they need us…..gimme a f’n break. an alleged country that can’t govern it’s people let alone protect them from the cartels that actually run the country.

    Regardless of who needs whom, one thing is clear to me, there is no reason for Mexico to grovel at the feet of an autocrat like Trump. Why would, or should, Mexico pay for a wall that only Americans want?

    Don’t you find it interesting that, thus far, the only person besides Madonna, who is not intimidated by Trump, is the President of Mexico?

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  25. grumpy realist says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: Ummm….Trump vs. the entire US business establishment, hmmm?

    I’m going to LOVE seeing the WSJ’s take on this tomorrow.

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  26. C. Clavin says:

    @Paul L.:
    Trump already walked this back, amid widespread bipartisan criticism.
    Do you realize how stupid you are for defending it, now?
    No…didn’t think so.

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  27. Pch101 says:

    If Paul L was a baseball player, he would set a record for having a batting average of less than zero.

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  28. An Interested Party says:

    …mexico…an alleged country that can’t govern it’s people let alone protect them from the cartels that actually run the country.

    If it weren’t for the twin facts of our stupid “War on Drugs” laws as well as so many Americans’ desire for drugs the cartels would have no power south of the border…so when you see all the carnage in Mexico on TV, blame your fellow citizens and our politicians…

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  29. grumpy realist says:

    I wonder what other foot Trump will shoot off tomorrow?

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  30. Terrye Cravens says:

    Trump is saying they will pay later…sure. I wonder how many investors have been scammed by Trump over the years with the promise that they will be paid later?

    And of course Trump is threatening the Germans and Japanese with all manner of mayhem if they dare to build an auto plant in Mexico. Never mind the fact that those same automakers employ tens of thousands of Americans..

    Trump is a bully and a liar. A decade ago we were apprehending over 900,000 people at that border, last year it was about 190,000. That wall will be a big fat boondoggle. I say let the people who voted for Trump pay for the damn thing.

    Gee, I wonder which one of Trump’s mob buddies will be make a butt load of money off all that concrete.

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  31. grumpy realist says:

    Now Trump’s trying to “Name and Shame” sanctuary cities.

    I suspect quite a few of the sanctuary cities are going to treat this like Milan did one of the Renaissance popes, when he put an interdict on the entire city: see if we care. Oh, and by the way, we’re now supporting your rival Anti-Pope.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. Lit3Bolt says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Paul L. is rushing back to his alt-right media safe space to download his new talking points.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. Terrye Cravens says:

    @Paul L.: Corrupt? People such as yourself just elected a lying, thieving, bigoted scum bag to the White House and you are trying mightily to blame the rest of us for your stupidity.

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  34. Pch101 says:

    On a positive note, I’m going to make a fortune selling brown shirts and jack boots.

    Paul, you be sure to let me know your shirt size.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Pch101:

    Don’t forget the armbands and epaulets.

    You could probably open a salon specializing in pompadours too, and sell cute little upper-lip mustache trimmers as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. Moosebreath says:

    “After One Week, Donald Trump Has Soured Relations With Mexico”

    Last week China, today Mexico. Who’s on the schedule for next week?

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  37. Mikey says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Last week China, today Mexico. Who’s on the schedule for next week?

    He’ll bring back CIA “black sites” and waterboarding and the Brits will stop intel sharing and Americans will die.

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  38. bill says:

    @al-Alameda: you realize that hillary and many of her co-horts voyed in favor of building “the wall” years ago- and that parts are already up? mexico’s “prez” can try to butch up his macho persona (as that’s mexico in a nutshell) but at the end of the day he has nothing to bargain with. citing “madonna”…..that’s special, hasn’t her entire family shunned her lame ass? i don’t do the tabloids so i’m bot sure/don’t care.

    @An Interested Party: the “cartels” have been running mexico long before the drug wars. and liberal weakness manifesting itself as drug addiction is nothing to be proud of. you want drugs to be legal- see the rise in heroin deaths and enjoy that. i don’t really care if chronic losers would rather off themselves that deal with being human but hey, that’s just me. i would like it if we didn’t have to pay to help them when the od…….so a universal dnr for druggies would be good!

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  39. rachel says:

    @Pch101: Orange is the new brown, so get the color right.
    @Moosebreath:

    Last week China, today Mexico. Who’s on the schedule for next week?

    The world, of course.

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  40. wr says:

    @bill: Remember, everyone, Bill’s got a “black girlfriend” so he is completely immune from charges of racism.

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  41. wr says:

    @Terrye Cravens: ” People such as yourself just elected a lying, thieving, bigoted scum bag to the White House and you are trying mightily to blame the rest of us for your stupidity.”

    Terrye, I’m shocked and appalled to see you use such language to describe the president of the USA.

    Everyone knows “scumbag” is one word.

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  42. wr says:

    @bill: “mexico’s “prez” can try to butch up his macho persona (as that’s mexico in a nutshell) but at the end of the day he has nothing to bargain with. citing ”

    Hilarious coming from a worshipper of a man who had to brag about his penis size in a political debate.

    But of course what you’re missing (besides a basic understanding of written English) is that the Mexican president has no need to negotiate because he doesn’t want this wall. All he has to do is say no. End of negotiations.

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  43. wr says:

    @bill: ” the “cartels” have been running mexico long before the drug wars.”

    They’re called DRUG cartels, moron. How were they running Mexico before drug wealth brought them power? Selling Girl Scout cookies?

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  44. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @bill:

    you realize that hillary and many of her co-horts voyed in favor of building “the wall” years ago

    Please link to proof that Clinton voted for a $25B wall that runs the entire length of the country…what Trump is proposing.
    You can’t…because you are a fwcking liar. (and a racist for that matter)

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  45. Pch101 says:

    @wr:

    I suspect that Bill’s black girlfriend is one of those invisible imaginary friends that some people had when they were children but should have given up sometime prior to the onset of puberty.

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  46. 1-) A Wall is useless because it’s very easy to overstay a visa in the US.

    2-) Trump is taking actions that are going to increase illegal immigration to the US and outsourcing, including increasing interest rates(That makes the dollar stronger) and deporting dangerous gang leaders.

    3-) Mexico is an great neighbor to the United States. Just take a look at several countries in Central and South America. The level of economic integration is much better than anywhere else in the American Continent.

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  47. grumpy realist says:

    Trump’s version of How to Win Friends And Influence People

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  48. MBunge says:

    Drugs. Illegal immigration. Manufacturing plants openly closing in America to move to Mexico.

    These are entirely legitimate issues that have done actual harm to actual Americans and at least part of the reason Trump is President is because that harm and those Americans have been ignored by the supposedly reasonable and responsible people in our politics.

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

    Mike

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  49. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @MBunge:

    These are entirely legitimate issues

    Sure, but none of the people you support…least of all the cry-baby-in-chief (my inauguration was smaller than my hands!!!!)…want to discuss the legitimate aspects of them, or legitimate solutions.

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  50. grumpy realist says:

    Uh-oh.

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  51. al-Alameda says:

    @grumpy realist:

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/donald-trump-first-president-not-mention-jews-holocaust-remembrance-day-statement

    I think congressional Democrats should invite Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress concerning this slight/oversight.

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  52. Eric Florack says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: given the border that Mexico has with Guatemala is lined with a border fence and armed guards maybe it’s not such a stupid idea

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  53. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Eric Florack:

    This is the Mexico / Guatemala border. Could you please point out the fence & armed guards in that photo?

    You won’t find it, because there isn’t one, and Mexico (according to the State Department) has about 125 officers to patrol the entire 577 mile border.

    You people don’t even try to validate the tripe that you’re fed, do you?

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  54. An Interested Party says:

    the “cartels” have been running mexico long before the drug wars.

    Drug cartels? Bullshit…

    and liberal weakness manifesting itself as drug addiction is nothing to be proud of.

    Liberal weakness? As if plenty of conservative folks in red states aren’t addicted to all manner of substances, both legal and illegal? Quit being an idiot…meanwhile, the “War on Drugs” has vastly expanded the prison-industrial complex and done little to lower drug addiction rates…

    Drugs. Illegal immigration. Manufacturing plants openly closing in America to move to Mexico.

    How sad that the things Trump wants to do will only increase these problems rather than doing anything to solve them…

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