Donald Trump Offers Completely Unworkable Solution for How He'll Make Mexico Pay for Border Wall
Amid a policy platform filled with outlandish, unworkable, illegal and not infrequently unconstitutional proposals, one of Donald Trump’s most absurd campaign promises is that he will not only build a wall across the southern border, he'll stick Mexico with the bill. It is an idea so absurd on its face that no one is buying it, save for Trump’s followers, despite the fact that the candidate has thus far been unable to explain just how he’ll get Mexico to go along with his plan.
Now a new memo from the Trump team to the Washington Post explains how funding for the 1,000-mile border wall will work. The short answer is, Trump plans to give Mexico an ultimatum: pay up, or America will cut off remittances; i.e., fund transfers sent from Mexicans abroad back home.
According to the two-page document, it’s “an easy decision for Mexico: Make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion” to pay for the wall or lose the “$24 billion” in remittances that “flow into their country year after year.”
Assuming the nation doesn’t go along with the plan—and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto has explicitly said it will not—the billionaire says he will order a section of the Patriot Act amended so that money transfers to Mexico through companies like Western Union are halted. “The majority of that amount comes from illegal aliens,” Trump’s memo reads. “It serves as de facto welfare for poor families in Mexico.”
There are multiple problems with this strategy. As the Post notes, separating funds sent by legal versus undocumented Mexican immigrants living and working in the U.S. is nearly impossible. The plan offers no insights into how all other international wire transfers might be affected. What’s more, preventing those funds from getting to Mexico would have tremendous economic consequences for Mexico, particularly for its most vulnerable communities, which in many cases rely on those monies.
Experts suggest that Trump’s understanding of the law and the ease with which it might be modified isn’t in keeping with reality.
"Trump is giving an extremely broad definition of this section of the Patriot Act and what it allows, and it'd surely be litigated," Stuart Anderson, executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy, told the Post. "It would be a large expansion beyond what the text reads."
The billionaire also suggests he’ll cancel visas, increase trade tariffs and raise fees on visas. “Immigration is a privilege, not a right,” the memo states.
Trump has made his border wall proposal a key talking point, and it is often cited by his followers as a reason for their support. The candidate has put the price tag for the increasingly grand wall at $8 billion, a figure experts say falls far short of realistic estimates.