As Hurricane Harvey pummeled Texas’ Gulf Coast and first responders (and sometimes just people who own boats) rescued thousands left stranded as they deal with “catastrophic flooding,” President Donald Trump repeatedly showed that his priorities lied somewhere else. Not only did he pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio – whom a federal court recently convicted for his inability to follow a 2011 judge’s order to put an end to the racial profiling of Latinos – in a move that many believe was meant to distract at a time of extreme vulnerability, he also couldn’t muster enough sympathy as people fought to survive. On Sunday, as heartbreaking images of flooded homes and streets circulated online and we learned that the death count rose to five, Trump tweeted about the wall and Mexico.
“With Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, we must have THE WALL,” he wrote. “Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other.” Trump’s statement is especially egregious considering that earlier in the year, his administration contemplated cutting the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s budget by 11 percent to increase the number of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Head of FEMA Brock Long anticipates years-long efforts to help Texas recover, but Trump has once again shown that the wall takes priority over anything else.
Meanwhile, Mexico once again reiterated that it will not pay for a wall. Instead, the country has pledged to help Texas with its recovery efforts. “The Mexican government takes this opportunity to express its full solidarity with the people and the government of the United States as a result of the damages caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and expresses that it has offered to provide cooperation to the US government in order to deal with the impact of this natural disaster – as good neighbors should always do in trying times,” the statement reads.
Even before the Mexican government released its statement, many had drawn comparisons between Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Katrina, which struck Louisiana in 2005. That year, the Mexican government sent aid to the US for the first time ever.
According to CBS, then-President Vicente Fox sent Mexican troops onto US soil for the first time since the Mexican-American War in 1846. Over the course of three weeks, the country provided 170,000 meals, distributed more than 184,000 tons of supplies, and offered more than 500 medical consultations. Members of the Mexican senate criticized Fox for not seeking their approval before providing aid to the US, but he stated that it wasn’t necessary for aid missions.
At the time, Fox’s spokesman, Ruben Aguilar, stated, “This is just an act of solidarity between two peoples who are brothers.”
On Sunday, the National Weather Service stated that Hurricane Harvey “is unprecedented” and “beyond anything experienced.” With Trump disparaging Mexico and its citizens as more pressing things happened in the country he presides over, The Washington Post wondered if Trump would let Mexico come to the United States’ rescue once again. So far – even in the face of a natural disaster – he’s shown his unwillingness to bend, and this time, it may come at the cost of American lives.