Getting Mexico To Pay For The Wall Might Be Trump’s Hardest Promise To Keep

REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
Font Size:

President-elect Donald Trump continues to insist that Mexico is going to pay for a border wall on America’s southern border, but how is it going to happen?

During his press conference Wednesday, Trump was asked how Mexico would pay for the wall, and said that the country “in some form” will “reimburse” the U.S. for the cost of the wall.

“That will happen. Whether it’s a tax or whether it’s a payment — probably less likely that it’s a payment — but it will happen,” Trump said.

Forcing Mexico to pay for a wall on its northern border has been a staple of President-elect Trump’s platform since he announced his run for the presidency in June 2015.

He was vague about how this would be accomplished, just that he would force Mexico to pay for it as they have made a “fortune” off the United States. Then in April, Trump sent a memo to The Washington Post which specifically laid out how he would force Mexico to pay for the wall.

The key facet of this plan was that on “day 1” in office he would use a provision of the Patriot Act to cut off the flow of billions of dollars that immigrants send back home to Mexico. His memo said that on “day 2,” Mexico “will immediately protest.” Then on “day 3,” the Trump administration will tell Mexico that they will undo the rule change if the Mexican government contributes “$_billion” to pay for the wall.

But now the plan is that Mexico will reimburse the United States for the wall after it is built. Trump said at the press conference, “What’s the difference? I want to get the wall started. I don’t want to wait a year and a half until I make my deal with Mexico.”

The president-elect said that since Mexico has been “so nice,” that there will probably be a deal done before that happens. While Mexican leaders have shown a willingness to renegotiate NAFTA, there has been a hard “no” regarding paying for the border wall.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said Wednesday that “of course” Mexico won’t pay for the wall. This is a sentiment that has been repeated by his foreign minister and the president of Mexico’s senate. It is not only a matter of dignity for Mexican politicians, but according to Alfredo Coutiño, Latin America director for Moody’s Analytics, Mexico doesn’t have the money to pay for it.

Mexico’s economy has been struggling, and Peña Nieto, who suffers from low approval ratings, doesn’t have much to gain from forking over billions of dollars to the United States.

President-elect Trump also seems to be alone in his effort to get Mexico to pay for a border wall, as Republican congressmen and groups which advocate for reduced immigration have not been supportive of the measure.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Daily Caller, “The Mexican government isn’t going to pay for the wall, and making an issue of it is not helpful in our relations with them.”

“But taxing remittances — especially the way Oklahoma does it, which targets mainly illegal aliens, most of whom are Mexican — is a kind of poetic justice,” Kirkorian added.

NumbersUSA has remained silent on this issue and did not return a request for comment.

Republican Texas Rep. Brian Babin is usually willing to discuss his anti-immigration proposals with The Daily Caller, such as cutting federal funds to “sanctuary campuses,” but his office wouldn’t return a request for comment about whether he supports making Mexico pay for a border wall.

Another Texas Republican Rep., Louie Gohmert, who has voted against amnesty for illegal immigrants, said in an interview that Congress has the funds to pay for a border wall. He did not mention the possibility of money coming from America’s southern neighbor.

Trump’s April proposal to force Mexico to pay for the border wall also contained other ideas such as cutting off visas till Mexico forks over the money, increasing trade tariffs and raising visa fees. Raising visa fees would be making Mexican citizens pay for it, and cutting off visas until Mexico pays like the remittances plan is unlikely due to Mexico’s economy.

Getting reimbursement for the wall from trade tariffs could be done, but as the wall is estimated to cost around $20 billion and the U.S. has a nearly $60 billion trade deficit with Mexico, it would require a massive hike in tariffs.