Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had “no conversation” with Mexican officials about whether the country would pay for President Donald Trump’s promised southern border wall, despite Trump’s campaign promises.
In Sunday’s interview on ABC’s “This Week,” anchor George Stephanopoulous asked Tillerson whether the wall came up during his meeting at the State Department with Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray last week.
“We had no conversation about that issue,” Tillerson said. “We have had, I think, very productive talks around actions that can be taken to slow and stem and discourage transmigration of people coming from Central America through Mexico and entering the United States.”
When pressed on the matter, Tillerson flatly stated that the wall isn’t a topic of conversation for him and Vidergaray. “It’s just not part of our discussions between the foreign minister and myself,” he said.
But Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said the topic wasn’t off limits for him. During a separate interview on ABC Sunday, Rubio said that in his meetings, the wall did come up — and that Mexico refuses to pay for it but the United States should.
“Let me just say, Mexico’s not going to pay for the wall. And, by the way, America should, if we believe that’s in our national interests to do so,” the Florida senator told Stephanopoulous.
“I think they have a real interest in their border security, in their southern border,” Rubio continued, naming El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras as sources of migration. “Mexico’s as much a transit point now as it is a source of origin for people coming into the United States.”
While Rubio and Tillerson positively described their meetings with Mexican officials, Rubio’s statement that the United States should pay for a reinforced U.S.-Mexico border wall signals that Trump could be headed for a major concession on one of his chief campaign promises.
Trump has already run into roadblocks on the wall front. In February, Trump had to face the fact that his “big, beautiful wall” would cost more than he expected — about $21.6 billion. Trump originally estimated the wall would cost $12 billion and insisted on lowering the estimated cost.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testified during a congressional hearing last week that the wall’s physical reach would be limited.
“It’s unlikely that we will build a wall or physical barrier from sea to shining sea,” Kelly said. “But … I’m committed to putting it where the men and women [in immigration and border enforcement] say we should put it.”