3/21/2016 The New York Times
MEXICO CITY — IN 2011, when the Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain proposed building an electric fence on the Mexican border, it predictably caused shock waves south of the Rio Grande. Priests, the press and a former president expressed outrage. Mr. Cain quickly pulled back, saying he was just kidding. “That is not a serious plan,” he said. “America needs to get a sense of humor. That is a joke, O.K.?”
Mr. Cain’s retreat reflected a back and forth that had defined the Mexican-American relationship for decades. It was understood that, from time to time, a politician might take a potshot at Mexico. But there was a line: If the punch was too hard, the right voices here would call foul, and the politician would back down.
Until Donald J. Trump. He infamously kicked off his campaign with the taunting phrase “They’re rapists.” Mexico’s foreign relations department called him out for “prejudice, racism and total ignorance,” while major Mexican companies boycotted him. But Mr. Trump only doubled down. His signature line — “We are going to build a wall. And who is going to pay for it?” — draws cheers from his supporters.