Friday morning President Trump had a phone call with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in which he intimated he’d send the U.S. military down to “take care of” the “bad hombres,” according to a excerpt of the call provided anonymously to the Associated Press.
“You have a bunch of bad hombres down there,” Trump told Pena Nieto, according to the excerpt seen by the AP. “You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.”
It isn’t surprising that Trump would take such a tone with Pena Nieto, given their Twitter spats and his remarks about Mexico on the campaign trail. A White House spokesperson did not return Time’s request for a comment, so there is no confirmation of the excerpt’s authenticity.
A similar account was published by a Mexican website Tuesday, prompting a harsh denial statement from Mexico’s foreign relations department.
“The assertions that you make about said conversation do not correspond to the reality of it,” the statement said. “The tone was constructive and it was agreed by the presidents to continue working and that the teams will continue to meet frequently to construct an agreement that is positive for Mexico and for the United States.”
If that excerpt of the call is accurate, it shows that Trump continues to handle foreign policy quite differently than his predecessor. A good relationship with Mexico is necessary, given all of the issues on which the two countries cooperate. But for too long the Mexican government has been okay with unnecessarily allowing their people to live in squalor. Their nation is rich in natural resources and has a prime geographic location. It should be an economic powerhouse, not an exporter of labor.
One big key to stopping the illegal immigration problem is to incentivize the Mexican government to build its economy. If it takes Donald Trump having tough-guy calls with their president, that might not be such a bad thing.