A presidential candidate was barnstorming across Los Angeles over the weekend, reaching out to Mexican migrants, blasting President Trump and calling for protection for illegal immigrants.
The twist: he is running for president of Mexico.
According to Mexican newspaper Excelsior, Ricardo Anaya Cortes met with businessmen and activists in Los Angeles -- which has a large Hispanic population.
Among those he met with was Obama-era Department of Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano, now the president of the University of California.
In a tweet accompanied by a picture with Napolitano, Anaya said they “talked about the importance of supporting the Dreamers and agreed that Mexican migrants deserve respect.”
By “Dreamers,” he was referring to illegal immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children. Trump repealed the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) in September, which gave protection to some of those arrivals, and gave Congress a deadline of March 5 to pass a fix. Court orders have since extended that deadline.
According to Excelsior, Anaya said that “we are one,” and reiterated that the Mexican migrant community in the U.S. is not alone. While on American soil, he also took a swipe at President Trump by saying he would not be on the side of “an American president who has dedicated himself to insulting our community.”
Relations between Trump and Mexico have been strained since the very beginning of Trump’s campaign when he described the immigrants coming from Mexico in harsh terms.
When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best,” Trump said in June 2015. “They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems... They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Trump has also clashed with Mexican leaders over his campaign pledge that Mexico would pay for the wall on the southern border.
For Anaya, though, even the cool actions from President Peña Nieto were too positive, with Anaya blasting Nieto for allowing Trump to visit the country in 2016.
"After Donald Trump had been insulting, and revolting at the best that Mexico has in the United States, they dared to roll out a red carpet to receive him in Los Pinos, as if he were a head of state," he said, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.
Appealing to the Mexican community, he said that those who have entered the U.S. are “the heroes of the country.”
“I want to ask you, with my heart in my hand, that every time you hear an aggressive or denigrating expression, remember that there, in Mexico, you are the heroes of the country, the brave, the enterprising, the generous, those who dared to cross the border to give their family a better future,” he said, according to CIS.
A candidate from the conservative National Action Party, Anaya has promised respectful relations with the United States but said his government would not let Washington take advantage.
"At the right time I will say personally to the president of the United States, and I will say it in his language so there will be absolutely no confusion ... Mexico will not pay a single cent for that wall," Anaya said.
The election is July 1. Reuters reported in January that since the last election, seven times as many Mexicans in the U.S. have received voting credentials under new rules that let Mexican citizens sign up at local consulates rather than in Mexico.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.