Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an anti-immigration hard-liner and prominent Donald Trump supporter, said he’s not bothered by the GOP nominee’s failure to discuss payment for his proposed border wall during Wednesday’s meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Trump, who has made construction of a wall that Mexico will pay for a campaign’s signature issue, said during a joint news conference with Peña Nieto in Mexico City that the issue of who will fund the wall would be resolved in the future.
“We did discuss the wall,” Trump said. “We didn’t discuss payment of the wall. That’ll be for a later date.”
Trump has promised repeatedly that he would make Mexico pay for construction of the wall. When he asks supporters who will pay for the wall at campaign rallies, crowds roar in near unanimity: “Mexico!”
But Arpaio, the controversial Arizona sheriff known for his outspoken stance against immigration, gave Trump a pass on that detail.
“What difference does it make? The wall is important no matter who pays for it,” Arpaio said in an interview on CNN. “If Mexico doesn’t pay for it, they do get foreign aid. Maybe we can deduct the price from the foreign aid. I’m not trying to be nasty.”
Trump’s campaign has estimated that construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border would cost $8 billion. More realistic outside estimates have pegged the bill at $25 billion. In comparison, U.S. foreign aid to Mexico in the next fiscal year is projected to be about $130 million ― a meager sum compared to the billions it would take to build a wall.
In his interview on CNN, Arpaio also praised Trump for having the “courage” to go to Mexico and meet with the country’s president, who has criticized Trump for insulting the country’s people and has even called him the “devil.”
“What a great day this is that the president of Mexico invited Donald Trump to Mexico, and he had the courage to go into the heart of Mexico and talk to the president,” Arpaio said. “There is mutual respect there.”