Trump to meet Mexican president ahead of immigration speech

The Republican presidential nominee's surprise visit to Mexico comes just ahead of his much-anticipated speech on immigration.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

In his speech, Donald Trump will detail where he stands on illegal immigration after worrying some conservative allies when he said last week he was 'softening' his position on mass deportations.

US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will meet Mexico's president on Wednesday, hours before he sets out proposals to crack down on illegal immigration.

The Mexico trip will be Trump's second appearance on the world stage during his presidential campaign. He visited Scotland in June just before Britain voted to leave the European Union.

But the surprise trip south of the border comes as debate about his hardline immigration policies intensifies and holds potential political peril. Some analysts believe, however, that with the visit, Trump could seize control of the campaign narrative at a crucial time, showing a willingness to engage diplomatically on a sensitive issue at the heart of his policies.

"I have accepted the invitation of President Enrique Pena Nieto, of Mexico, and look very much forward to meeting him tomorrow," Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

Pena Nieto also confirmed the meeting in a tweet.

"I believe in dialogue to promote Mexico's interests in the world, and chiefly, to protect Mexicans wherever they are."

Trump has routinely assailed Mexican immigrants who illegally cross the border into the United States. Hardline immigration policies including calls for deportations are a key plank of his campaign.

The real estate billionaire has also pledged to build a wall along the Mexican border to stop migrants, who Trump termed as “rapists and drug dealers”. He also threatened to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), further angering people in Mexico.

Pena Nieto also publicly voiced scepticism about Trump at a June 29 news conference with US President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa. He likened Trump to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

"Hitler, Mussolini, we all know the result," he said, when asked to explain the comparison.

"It was only a call for reflection and for recognition, so that we bear in mind what we have achieved and the great deal still to achieve."

There are indications already that Trump may not receive a very warm welcome in Mexico. 

"Be part of the campaign of a candidate dedicated to insulting us? Why?" said former interior minister Alejandro Poire, retweeting #TrumpNotWelcome hashtags on Twitter.

In his Arizona speech Wednesday night, Trump will detail where he stands on illegal immigration after worrying some conservative allies when he said last week he was "softening" his position on mass deportations.

Trump aides said he would reaffirm his determination to build the border wall in order to cut new illegal crossings and quickly deport illegal immigrants who have committed crimes in the United States.

However, the central question facing Trump was how he would treat the majority of the 11 million illegal immigrants who have set down roots in their communities and obeyed US laws, an issue that bedevils the immigration debate.

TRTWorld and agencies