Mexico will file a formal complaint with the United States over comments by President Donald Trump yesterday in which he described some unauthorized immigrants as animals.
Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray said this morning that Trump’s description was “absolutely unacceptable,” and that the Mexican government would file a formal complaint with the U.S. State Department today.
“President Trump referred to some immigrants, perhaps he had criminal gangs in mind, I don’t know, as animals, not as people,” Videgaray said in an interview with broadcaster Televisa.
“In the opinion of the Mexican government this is absolutely unacceptable and we are going to formally communicate this to the U.S. State Department today,” he added.
In a later radio interview, Videgaray reiterated his view by saying that Trump’s remarks “are serious and unacceptable for the Mexican government.”
“To say that a person is not a person implies that the government does not feel obliged to respect their human rights,” he said.
Trump made the “animals” remark and other disparaging comments that portrayed Mexico as a poor ally during a White House meeting yesterday with members of his cabinet, lawmakers and local Californian officials who are opposed to the state being a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants. Reporters also attend the roundtable discussion.
“Mexico does nothing for us. They do nothing for us,” Trump said after hearing an account of an alleged murderer who is now living “openly and freely” in the border city of Tijuana.
“Mexico talks but they do nothing for us, especially at the border. They certainly don’t help us much on trade, but especially at the border they do nothing for us,” he remarked.
Later in the meeting, when discussion turned to illegal immigration and gang members, Trump first touted his record on deporting unauthorized immigrants before making the “animals” slight that has drawn the ire of the Mexican government.
“We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country,” he said.
“You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before,” the U.S. president continued.
Trump has railed against illegal immigration since before he was elected president in November 2016 and has made the construction of a border wall between the two North American neighbors a central tenet of his political platform.
In an infamous 2015 speech, he labeled some Mexican immigrants to the United States as “criminals,” “drug dealers” and “rapists.”
Trump’s border wall proposal and his often-aggressive rhetoric towards Mexico — as well as contentious bilateral issues including trade and drug smuggling — have led to a deterioration of relations between the two countries.
A testy telephone call between Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Trump in February led to the cancellation of a planned meeting between the two leaders.
The U.S. president was also highly critical of Mexico last month as a migrant caravan was traveling through the country en route to the Mexico-U.S. border.
“Mexico is doing very little, if not NOTHING, at stopping people from flowing into Mexico through their Southern Border, and then into the U.S.,” he wrote on Twitter on April 1.
Trump’s latest remarks come as Mexico, the United States and Canada continue to negotiate a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
United States House Speaker Paul Ryan set a deadline of today to reach a new deal in order to give the current U.S. Congress a chance of passing it.
However, differences on contentious issues still remain and Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo said Tuesday that the possibility of a new deal this week was unlikely.