Trump doubles down on ‘impenetrable, physical’ wall during immigration speech

 

 

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Donald Trump, in a speech on immigration Wednesday, said U.S. policies must serve the American people and the government should choose immigrants “we think are the likeliest to thrive and flourish and love us.”

In the long-awaited speech in Phoenix, Arizona, amid accusations he was softening his hardline stance on the subject, Trump said that America’s current immigration system “serves the needs of wealthy donors, political activists and powerful politicians.”

“Let me tell you who it does not serve, it does not serve you the American people. It doesn’t serve you,” he said.

He also called for politicians to talk about the subject, saying that for too long the legitimate fears of the American people have been ignored by politicians and the media.

“If we’re going to make our immigration system work, then we have to be prepared to talk honestly and without fear about these important and very sensitive issues,” he said.

He told the vibrant crowd that there are some immigrants who will be unable to assimilate into American society.

“It’s our right as a sovereign nation to choose immigrants we think are the likeliest to thrive and flourish and love us,” he said.

Trump’s speech comes after he met with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto earlier in the day and asserted America’s “right” to build a border wall during a surprise visit to Mexico City.

Both leaders adopted a measured and respected tone at the press conference, with Pena Nieto saying through a translator that their countries will face “common challenges” and urged a relationship based on “mutual respect.”

“We had a very substantive, direct and constructive exchange of ideas,” Trump said.

Trump, who has made illegal immigration the foremost issue of his campaign – including his promise to build a wall across the southern border and make Mexico pay for it – said the pair touched on the issue during their meeting.

On this there was disagreement. While Trump told reporters “we didn’t discuss payment of the wall,” Pena Nieto later contradicted Trump and said the subject was among those discussed. He also tweeted that he made it clear “that Mexico will not pay for the wall.”

The Clinton campaign ridiculed Trump’s meeting, and the ensuing controversy, with Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta accusing Trump of having “got beat in the room and [then] lied about it.”

Trump has been accused of stoking tensions on the subject ever since he announced his campaign in June of last year in which he accused Mexico of not sending their best people across the border.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending 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,” he said.

In recent weeks, Trump has been accused of softening his tone on the subject, and had been forced to clarify whether he favored a path to citizenship for those here legally, and whether he still planned to build a wall.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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