Republican frontrunner and billionaire Donald Trump has finally gone public with his plan to get Mexico to pay for the multibillion-dollar wall he wants to build along the southern border of the United States.
Trump told the Washington Post in a two-page memo that stopping money transfers from Mexican immigrants in the US to family back home is the key to the wall’s financing.
According to the World Bank, annual remittances to Mexico are approximately $25 billion. This represents about 2% of Mexico’s GDP. If these wire payments were to be cut off, it might plunge the Mexican economy into recession and seriously harm diplomatic ties.
On memo paper bearing the slogan “Make America Great Again!” Trump declared, “It’s an easy decision for Mexico.” Pay a one-time fee of $5–10 billion to guarantee annual payments of $24 billion.
Trump has said that the Wall will Cost $8 Billion to Construct.
In a memo titled “Compelling Mexico to Pay for the Wall,” Trump promised to notify the Mexican government of a new regulation that would allow the government to seize financial assets by immigrants unless they provided documentation establishing “lawful presence in the United States” on his first day in office. Trump claims that “the majority” of remittance money comes from illegal immigrants.
Whether or not such a move would be possible and legal is still in the air. In an interview with the Washington Post, Stuart Anderson, executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy, said that Trump’s interpretation of this Patriot Act provision will be disputed since it is so broad. “That goes much beyond what the text actually says.”
Trump’s memo lists several other instances of diplomatic blackmail, such as raising taxes on Mexican products, stopping legal immigration, and charging more for visas and green cards. A privilege, not a right, Trump argued that immigration is. Because of its proximity to the United States, Mexico relies on its neighbour to the north as a “relief valve” for the country’s extreme poverty.
He closed his memo by criticising current immigration rates, saying things like “gangs, drug traffickers, and cartels have freely exploited our open borders and perpetrated massive amounts of crimes inside the United States.”
“We have the moral high ground here and all the leverage,” Trump said. We must put it to good use now.
Former President Obama Addressed Trump’s Proposal in a Press Conference on Tuesday.
The president warned against implementing such “half-baked proposals” and wished them the best of luck.
Obama told reporters the idea was “one more example of something that is not thought through and primarily put up for political use.”
And he warned of the effects such a strategy would have on the Mexican economy, which would cause more people to cross the border illegally in search of work in the United States.