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Jan Lee headshot

Mexico Tells Trump It Won't Pay for Wall, Will Help Harvey Victims

By Jan Lee

President Trump's appeal to Mexico to pay for a multi-billion-dollar "border wall" received a unique response from neighbors down south: Mexico won't pay for the border wall, but it is more than happy to send aid to Texas towns besieged by Hurricane Harvey.

After all, that's what neighbors do, right?

On Sunday morning Trump treated his followers to another customary tweet about why he felt Mexico should pay for a wall, insisting that the country would pay for it through "reimbursement/other."

Mexico's secretary of foreign affairs wasted no time in politely-but-adroitly correcting Trump, stating that "[as] the government of Mexico has always maintained, our country will not pay for, in any way or under any circumstances a wall or physical barrier built on U.S. territory along the Mexican border.. This determination is not part of a Mexican negotiating strategy, but a matter of national sovereignty and dignity."

However, that didn't mean it wouldn't help its neighbor.

"The government of Mexico takes this opportunity to express its full solidarity with the people and government of the United States for the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and expresses that we have offered the U.S. government all the help and collaboration that can be provided by the various Mexican governmental agencies to deal with the impacts of this natural disaster, as good neighbors should always do in times of difficulty."

Trump hasn't yet taken to Twitter to respond to Mexico's offer, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson thanked the Mexican government, calling the offer "very generous."

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on the other hand, does intend to take Mexico up on its offer, which includes food, medical supplies, troops, boats, water and portable showers.

"Texas and Mexico share more than half the border. There are families, marriages, businesses that bind our two sides. This is about being good neighbors," explained Carlos Sada, Mexico's undersecretary for North American relations.

Mexico's Red Cross has also paid a visit to Houston. Earlier this week the "Cruz Roja" sent out a request for paramedics willing to travel to the besieged city. The 33 volunteers come from regions all across the country. They are expected to be in Houston until mid-September.

And with the latest flooding in eastern Texas, other first responders in Mexico are stepping up to help as well. Volunteers associated with Topos Aztecas, which specializes in complex extractions and rescues will be paying a visit to towns like Rockport, Tex., where the hurricane decimated neighborhoods.

The coordinator of the nonprofit aid organization Socorros, Hugo Velasquez, was careful to note that at the moment there is no formal agreement between the two federal governments supporting the aid. The organizations are simply sending aid because they know it's needed.

The state government of Texas is also urging everyone affected by the Hurricane to seek safety and, with the aid of the Mexican government, is broadcasting a special message to undocumented immigrants who may be afraid to seek help.

"Don't be afraid to come out. There is no deportation operation underway. We have the assurance of Gov. Abbott and the mayor of Houston," Undersecretary Sada said.

This isn't the first emergency that the government of Mexico and the country's rescue organizations have responded to in the U.S. In 2005 the Mexican government sent soldiers and supplies to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. Over the three-week period, they delivered in excess of 180 tons of supplies, 150,000 meals and conducted 500 medical consultations.

But while it's true that Texas has a strong bond with Mexico, it's a complex one. Voters in Texas overwhelmingly voted for Trump and the border-wall concept in 2016, despite a history of cooperation and help on both sides. Perhaps this latest offer of support will pave the way to more collegial relations.

Image: Flickr/The National Guard

Jan Lee headshot

Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.

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