Here's How Trump Will Make Mexico Pay for the Border Fence

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DONALD TRUMP PIÑATA BY DALTON AVALOS RAMIREZ/PHOTO BY MIKE LICHT
  • Donald Trump piñata by Dalton Avalos Ramirez/Photo by Mike Licht

GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has finally revealed how he will make Mexico build the border wall for us. Slate's Jordan Weissmann looks at The Donald's plan:
Number one on Trump's to-do list? Build a border wall, and make Mexico pay for it. This is a scheme he has floated before—and Mexico's President has said that, obviously, his country wouldn't cooperate—but now he's detailing more precisely how he'd bludgeon our southerly neighbor into forking over the cash. To wit:

Mexico must pay for the wall and, until they do, the United States will, among other things: impound all remittance payments derived from illegal wages; increase fees on all temporary visas issued to Mexican CEOs and diplomats (and if necessary cancel them); increase fees on all border crossing cards of which we issue about 1 million to Mexican nationals each year (a major source of visa overstays); increase fees on all NAFTA worker visas from Mexico (another major source of overstays); and increase fees at ports of entry to the United States from Mexico [Tariffs and foreign aid cuts are also options]. We will not be taken advantage of anymore.

So, this is what it is. Parts are puzzling. I'm not exactly sure, for instance, how Trump plans to distinguish remittance payments "derived from illegal wages" from regular old remittance payments. But, it's probably best to pay attention to the broad strokes: If necessary, Trump is happy to start a trade war and diplomatic struggle with Mexico until it funds a fence.

Say what you will about the merits of this idea, as a marketing strategy it's kind of brilliant. At this point, barking about how we need to build a wall to keep immigrants out is old hat in Republican politics. But demanding that Mexico cover the bill adds a nice, jingoistic edge that freshens the concept up. It's familiar with a twist.

Which, honestly, kind of describes the overall vibe of Trump's immigration plan. For instance, he wants to end birthright citizenship. Extreme? Sure. But that's already a popular idea among certain Republicans in Congress.1 He wants to cut off money to "sanctuary cities" that don't enforce federal immigration law—and, well, the GOP-led house just passed a bill to do exactly that. He also advocates a bunch of basically standard, hardline positions like increasing deportations and upping the number of ICE officers, and doesn't mention anything about a path citizenship (though, as Josh Barro recently noted, Trump has made comments suggesting some "flexibility" on that subject). Borrowing from immigration skeptics on the left, he would take steps to curb guest worker visas.


The Democratic National Committee's Director of Hispanic Media, Pablo Manriquez, responds:



Trump has reignited the GOP’s longstanding obsession with mass deportation. Like his fellow GOP candidates Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio and others, GOP front runner trump dismisses a full and equal pathway to citizenship for hardworking immigrants. The GOP should quit treating these families as second class citizens and join democrats who support immigrant families and want to keep them together.

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