Trump's Border Wall Is a 'First Century Solution to 21st Century Challenges,' Mexican Diplomat Says

Mexico's former ambassador to the United States has slammed President Donald Trump's long-touted border wall as a primitive solution to modern-day challenges.

Arturo Sarukhan, a Mexican diplomat who previously served six years as his country's ambassador to the United States, told USA Today that no matter what the president may say, Mexico will not pay for the structure.

"Mexico and the U.S. have done—and can do—great things together, but the one thing Mexico will not be doing with the U.S. is building a wall along our common border," Sarukhan said. "It's a 1st-century solution to 21st-century challenges," he added.

Trump returned to his old campaign promise on Thursday morning, insisting that "MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL," in a Twitter post. The tweet came after a high-profile clash with Democratic leaders on Tuesday, during which the president demanded Congress allocate billions to foot the bill.

Since first announcing his presidential campaign back in 2016, Trump has repeatedly vowed that Mexico would pay for the southern border wall. But in the past few months, the president has ramped up calls on Congress to fund the barrier, threatening to shut down the government if lawmakers don't allocate the money. Politicians and analysts have pushed back against Trump's demands, and pointed out that the project is exorbitantly costly and an ineffective solution.

Despite the significant opposition to the proposal, and a vow to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that he would be "proud to shut down the government for border security," the president's Thursday tweet suggested he already has the money to pay for the wall. He argued that the renegotiated trade agreement with Canada and Mexico (the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA) was saving the U.S. enough money to cover the cost.

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President Donald Trump inspects border wall prototypes in San Diego, California, on March 13. Arturo Sarukhan, a Mexican diplomat who previously served six years as his country’s ambassador to the United States, told USA Today that no matter what the president may say, Mexico will not pay for the structure. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Jesse Lee, a spokesman for the political arm of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, said Trump's pledge to make Mexico pay for the wall was "kind of a lie to begin with," according to USA Today. But Lee pointed out that not coming through on the false promise would be a political blow to the president. "That's why you see him going further and further down this desperate rabbit hole to try to salvage some semblance of 'I kept that promise,'" he said.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona criticized Trump's insistence on funding the border wall in Tuesday comments to reporters. He took aim at the president's promise to make Mexico pay for the wall. "We all knew that wasn't going to happen," the GOP legislator quipped.

Meanwhile, a poll released this week by NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist Poll suggested that the majority of Americans want Trump to change his stance on the southern barrier. While 57 percent said the president should compromise on the wall, only 36 percent believe he should remain firm. However, the majority of Republicans—61 percent—believe Trump should even shut down the government if necessary to build the structure.

Trump's Border Wall Is a 'First Century Solution to 21st Century Challenges,' Mexican Diplomat Says | World