With Donald Trump’s rhetoric about Mexican rapists and border walls obviously on their minds, President Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto made a public show of friendship and respect Wednesday.
“All too often we’re hearing rhetoric that ignores the enormous contributions that have been made by Mexican Americans and the enormous strengths we draw from the relationship,” Mr. Obama said during a meeting with Mr. Pena Nieto at a summit in Ottawa, Canada.
Mr. Obama said the U.S. “is not just a friend and neighbor of Mexico, but the very character of the United States is shaped by Mexican Americans who have shared our culture, our politics, our business.”
In an apparent reference to Mr. Trump’s pledge to force Mexico to pay for building a wall on the U.S. border, Mr. Pena Nieto said, “Isolationism cannot bring prosperity to a society.”
“We have to be very clear about the benefits of being an integrated region,” the Mexican leader said. “Isolationism is not a road towards progress. We are neighbors, we are friends.”
Mr. Trump launched his campaign for the presidency last year by vowing to get tougher with immigration on the Mexican border. He said Mexico is sending to the U.S. “people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Mexican Foreign Secretary Claudia Ruiz-Massieu said Mr. Trump’s rhetoric “is not only offensive or disparaging to Mexicans, I think it should be worrisome for anyone that believes that people have the same rights.”
“You should not use stereotypes or negative categories to talk about countries and peoples that are your friends, your allies — and should be accorded the same respect as anyone else,” she told CBC News.