MEXICO CITY: Mexico lashed out Thursday at US President Donald Trump for saying that some migrants are "animals," calling the statement "absolutely unacceptable."
No stranger to controversy for his hardline anti-immigration comments, Trump stoked new fury Wednesday when he made the remark to a group of California Republicans visiting the White House, during a discussion on his planned border wall.
"You wouldn't believe how bad these people are, these aren't people, these are animals," he said in referring to "people coming in to the country, or trying to come in."
Mexico, which has bristled at being on the receiving end of some of Trump's harshest rhetoric, condemned the comment.
"In the Mexican government's opinion, this is absolutely unacceptable, and we are going to communicate that formally today to the (US) State Department," said Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray.
"Comparing any person to an animal, regardless of criminal record or immigration status... is an invitation to violate human rights, to hate, to xenophobic rhetoric, and that is something that cannot be accepted," he told Mexican TV network Televisa.
Relations between the two neighbors have been tense since Trump won election in 2016 with a campaign heavy on anti-Mexican rhetoric and promises to build a border wall.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has twice canceled plans to visit Washington over Trump's ongoing insistence that Mexico pay for the wall.
Last month Pena Nieto also ordered a sweeping review of Mexico's cooperation with the US, including in the vital areas of security and trade, after Trump ordered thousands of National Guard troops to the border following media reports on a caravan of Central American migrants crossing Mexico toward the United States.