One of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s main (if not only) defined policy goals is to erect an enormous, very tall, very expensive wall on the border between The United States and Mexico. Today, in a memo, Trump made it clear how he would pay for this wall—by bankrupting Mexico’s poor.
Trump’s proposal calls for a change to the Patriot Act that would bar non-Americans from wiring money outside of the U.S. unless they provide documentation proving their legal status in the receiving country. This would make the types of money transfers common amongst all immigrants, known as remittances, quite difficult. Trump’s memo explains that this doesn’t have to happen so long as Mexico, and only Mexico, forks over a few billion to pay for that very big, very tall wall.
“It’s an easy decision for Mexico: make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion to ensure that $24 billion continues to flow into their country year after year.”
Our current president, (rightfully) thinks this is a stupid idea. Speaking to reporters, Obama said, “People expect the president of the United States and the elected officials in this country to treat these problems seriously, to put forward policies that have been examined, analyzed are effective, where unintended consequences are taken into account.”
“They don’t expect half-baked notions coming out of the White House. We can’t afford that.”
Trump’s very big, very tall wall is estimated to cost anywhere between $10-12 billion and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has said, emphatically, that Mexico is not going to pay for that wall. Trump’s response to this fact is apparently to hit Mexico where it hurts.
According to The Associated Press, remittances accounted for about $24.8 billion last year, mainly in the form of small amounts of money sent from family members living in the U.S. back home to Mexico. Cutting off these funds would make it difficult for rural families that rely on money sent from relatives in the U.S to buy the goods they need to survive.
Ricardo Ramirez, a political scientist at the University of Notre Dame, told AP that Trump’s proposal would hurt American companies like Western Union and might even cause more immigration.
“If remittances are impacted, then the economic stability of Mexico would be threatened. Which means there would be more of a push to have immigrants come to the U.S.,” Ramirez said. “So it might actually have the inverse effect.”