Mexicans fear Trump rhetoric is a poison that will infect US border policy

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Observers advise that even if a wall is never built, the current political climate threatens to derail decades of cooperation and economic ties

Donald Trumps rhetoric about migrants and his promise to wall off the USs southern perimeter have prompted Joe Biden to apologize on behalf of a nation and driven former Mexican President Vicente Fox to swearing.

But even if the border wall is never built, many in Mexico fear that Trumps commentaries about the country will result in a more draconian US border policy, threatening to derail two decades of closer ties and economic integration brought about by the North American Free Trade Agreement.

There is no winning for Mexico in this situation, tells Federico Estvez, political science professor at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico. The only win is if Trump loses down the line. But you can be sure that his policy on immigration will be followed at the border.

Biden attained his apology at an appearance on Thursday with President Enrique Pea Nieto in Mexico City, where Trumps rise on a wave of nativism is causing disquiet.

Mexicans have satirized Trump on social media satires, rebuked him as racist and beaten Trump piatas made with special attention to his hairdo at birthday parties.

Yet his rhetoric is spooking the countrys upper-class, whose attitudes of migrants have not always been positive, and whose inability to clean up corruption or create jobs have prompted millions of Mexicans to head north.

[ Trump] talks about the rationale for why Mexicans going there: absence of jobs, widespread corruption, tells Rodolfo Soriano Nez, a sociologist in Mexico City. It actually clouds any possible[ bilateral] migration agreement, which is the goal of any Mexican as they need an arrangement to keep avoiding a major[ program of] social reforms.

Some in the political class are starting to fire back. A pair of former chairwomen, Vicente Fox and Felipe Caldern, have denounced Trump and his plans for Mexico to pay for his proposed border wall.

The remarks by Fox who, as a plain-spoken foreigner nominee, ended seven decades of one-party regulation with his election in 2000 were replayed on Friday by the Fox Business Network: I have to say that we are not, I am not going to pay for that f *** ing wall.

Pea Nieto has been more circumspect, though he referring to Trump during his appearance with Biden. Building walls is just isolating oneself, he said. In a speech to the UN official records of the general assembly last September, he advised ominously of populism though is was interpreted as much as an attack on perennial presidential candidate Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador, who was leading the polls at the time, as Trump.

Others are urging Pea Nieto not known for an ability to improvise or straying from scripts and teleprompters to go on the offensive, even if it runs the risk of offering fodder for future Trump attacks.

Against Trump, we cannot stay on the defensive. No one has reviled us like this since[ chairwoman James] Polk in 1846 author of the Mexican-American war has vilified us like this, tweeted historian and public intellectual Enrique Krauze.

Silence is acquiescence, told Jorge Guajardo, a former Mexican ambassador to China, who was contended that the countrys politicians could no longer hope to avoid eliciting Trump by remaining silent. Now we are his punch bag. Time to hit back.

The Trump threat comes at a time cooperation had increased between the two countries in areas such as trade and, more recently, security as Mexico cracked down on narcotic cartels. Mexico has also started imprisoning and deporting record numbers of Central American migrants, long before they reach the US border.

There wasnt much more[ Mexican officials] could do to please the Americans, tells Estvez, who believes the best Mexico can hope for now is a return to a more polite nativism.

They guessed cooperation with the US was enough, he told. Then comes Trump.

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