Donald Trump, who is hoping to become the Republican candidate for US president in next year’s elections, said he would build a 3,100km wall along the southern border of the US – and would persuade Mexico to pay for it.
The 69-year-old multi-billionaire said in a 16 June speech announcing his candidacy: "I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words."
It’s obvious he has no clear project and that he obviously has no idea what Mexican migrants contribute to the US– Minster of the interior
The reaction from commentators in Mexico suggested Mr Trump will have his work cut out for him. The Mexican government was quoted by the Telesur website as saying the proposals were "absurd and prejudiced".Â
The minster of the interior said in a statement: "It’s obvious he has no clear project and that he obviously has no idea what Mexican migrants contribute to the US, as well as migrants from the rest of the world, who have backed the development of the US."Â
The Mexicans’ particularly objected to Trump’s suggestion that "[Mexico] is sending people that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems to us. They are bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and their rapists."
Lisa Navarrete, a spokeswoman for the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organisation, said: "This is a man who has a pathological need for attention. I look at him as a two-year-old who will say a naughty word to get their parents’ attention. That’s what he’s doing."Â
The measure may prove popular with voters, however. In 2010 a nationwide poll revealed that 68% of American were in favour of building a wall and 21% were against. The approach contrasts with that taken by Jeb Bush, who has set out to court the Latino vote.Â Â
About 930km of the border already has a wall in place, although there are few continuous passages. Much of the border has a "virtual fence" made up of electronic sensors.
In March last year, the Israeli company Elbit Systems won a contract from the Department of Homeland Security to install surveillance systems along the border.
The company previously supplied an "intrusion detection systems" and other infastructure support for Israel’s West Bank barrier.Â
According to the Human Rights National Commission of Mexico there have been about 5,000 migrant deaths along the Mexico-US border in the past 13 years; almost 2,000 deaths were officially reported between 1998 and 2004.