Mexican Officials Hoped to Strengthen Relations With Trump Today, Instead He Blindsided Them

Lead Photo: U.S. President Donald J. Trump listens during a Department of Veterans Affairs announcement. Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images News
U.S. President Donald J. Trump listens during a Department of Veterans Affairs announcement. Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images News
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On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump took to his preferred method of communication to discuss his plans for Wednesday. “Big day planned on national security tomorrow,” he tweeted. “Among many other things, we will build the wall!” In under 140 characters or less, Trump notified the country that immigration would be at the forefront the following day. But it was news outlets that immediately laid bare just how grim Wednesday could get. The initial reports came as the Trump Administration worked out the details. However, White House officials spoke under the guise of anonymity and revealed Trump’s sweeping immigration actions, according to the Washington Post.

On day six of Trump’s presidency, he put some of his biggest campaign promises into motion. He signed executive orders to begin construction on a wall between the United States and Mexico and to find a way to cut off funding for sanctuary cities that refuse to turn over undocumented immigrants to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to White House Secretary Sean Spicer. Trump began his presidential campaign nearly two years ago by pledging to build a wall on the United States’ southern border to cut off immigration from Latin America and other countries. He’s also repeatedly stated that he will make Mexico pay for the wall, making for a potentially tense meeting when the two leaders’ paths cross on January 31.

The orders come on the same day that Mexican officials Luis Videgaray and Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal visit the White House in hopes of fostering positive relations between the two nations. The meeting was set up at least a month ago, but Trump’s new orders – whether strategic or not – surely caught the officials off guard as they, along with everyone else, learned of the new orders on Tuesday night. Politico suggests that the move signals that a Trump Administration isn’t interested in input from the countries it will directly impact. “Donald Trump is delivering on his campaign promises to the constituency that have elected him president,” Peter Schechter, a Latin America expert at The Atlantic Council, told Politico. “Where the rubber is going to meet the road is how many people will he just refuse to consider in order to make the narrow constituency happy. Other countries will say, ‘Well, if this is the way he treats this huge neighbor, how will he treat Germany, or Nigeria, or China?”

Though Trump has treated Mexico as an enemy, the truth is that the two countries are inextricably tied. It’s the US’ third-largest trading partner, and millions of people in the US stand to lose their jobs if the relationship becomes strained. Also, the US cannot secure the border without our southern neighbor.

As Trump intends to make good on building the wall, he’s also standing by his promise to dismantle the sanctuary cities that vowed to protect their undocumented community by withholding federal funding. “We will end the sanctuary cities that have resulted in so many needless deaths,” he said, according to Quartz. “Cities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities will not receive taxpayer dollars, and we will work with Congress to pass legislation to protect those jurisdictions that do assist federal authorities.”

During his campaign, Trump also took aim at the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which gives young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States at a young age permission to work and go to school. It shielded them from deportation and allowed them to come out of the shadows. As the Trump administration remains split on DACA, the future of the program is currently up in the air. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer noted that today’s immigration orders don’t touch on DACA, but that more immigration news will be released this week.

While his actions will have wide-ranging effects for Latin Americans and other immigration, it may also specifically target refugees fleeing war-torn countries. His administration is debating putting an indefinite end to a program that grants Syrian refugees entry to the United States. Additionally, he may end refugee programs for all countries for four months. And for up to 30 days, he may not allow issuing of US visas to people from Muslim-majority countries Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and Iran.

As the undocumented community, refugees, and their allies ready themselves for an uphill battle, they’re once again fighting the hate and xenophobia that’s received an ever-increasing platform. With the words #NoBanNoWall, they’re denouncing Trump’s immigration orders: