President Donald Trump, who has insisted repeatedly that Mexico will pay for the border wall he has promised to build, said Thursday that his meeting next week with Mexico's president should be canceled "if Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall."
Trump's remarks came in a pair of tweets.
Trump instructed officials on Wednesday to begin to "plan, design and construct a physical wall along the southern border" and see how it could be funded.
"A nation without borders is not a nation," Trump said, echoing former president Ronald Reagan, as he visited the Department of Homeland Security to sign two executive orders.
"Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders," Trump said.
Hours later, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto demanded "respect" for his country in a nationally televised address.
"I regret and condemn the decision of the United States to continue construction of a wall that, for years, has divided us instead of uniting us," Pena Nieto said.
"I have said it time and again: Mexico will not pay for any wall."
Pena Nieto said he would wait for a report from a high-level Mexican delegation in Washington and consult with governors and lawmakers before deciding on "the next steps to take."
Lawmakers are pressuring the Mexican leader to cancel a meeting with Trump in Washington scheduled for next week.
Stemming immigration was a central plank of Trump's election campaign.
His signature prescription was to build a wall along the 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) US-Mexico border.
Some of the border is already fenced, but Trump says a wall is needed to stop illegal immigrants from Latin America.
A Morning Consult/Politico poll released Wednesday said 47 percent of voters support building a wall, with 45 percent against.
AFP contributed to this report.
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