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Trump proposes funding wall by cutting off remittances

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    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke at a rally at the Milwaukee Theatre, Monday, in Milwaukee.

WASHINGTON » Donald Trump would try to force Mexico to pay for a border wall by targeting billions of dollars in remittances sent by immigrants living in the U.S., according to a memo released by his campaign today.

The memo outlines in new detail how Trump would try to compel Mexico to pay for the 1,000-mile wall he’s promised to build along the Southern border if he becomes president.

In his proposal, Trump threatened to change a rule under the USA Patriot Act, an anti-terrorism law, to cut off a portion of the funds sent to Mexico through money transfers known as remittances. His plan would also bar non-Americans from wiring money outside of the U.S. unless they can provide documentation establishing their legal status in the country.

Trump said he would withdraw the threat if Mexico makes “a one-time payment of $5-10 billion” to finance the 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,” the memo reads.

“Good luck with that,” President Barack Obama said today in response to questions about Trump’s proposal. He warned of the ramifications such a plan would have on the Mexican economy which, in turn, would drive more immigrants to cross the border in search of jobs.

“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,” Obama said. “They don’t expect half-baked notions coming out of the White House. We can’t afford that.”

The U.S. is home to about 12 million Mexicans, some living here illegally, according to various research organizations that monitor trends in immigration. They and other migrants use money transfer agents or banks to send money home, often with the objective of supporting their families.

The Mexican central bank reported that money sent home by Mexicans overseas hit nearly $24.8 billion last year, overtaking oil revenues for the first time as a source of foreign income. Cutting off those transfers would therefore represent a significant blow to the Mexican economy.

The memo also lists other potential areas for leverage, including threats of trade tariffs, cancelling visas — including targeting “business and tourist visas for important people in the Mexican economy” — and increasing visa fees, including includes fees on border crossing cards.

The release of the memo was first reported by the Washington Post early today.

This is not the first time that Trump has spelled out options for pressuring Mexico into paying for his signature policy proposal.

In an immigration overhaul plan released in August, Trump’s campaign suggested a number of options for compelling Mexico to pay for the wall. Those included impounding “all remittance payments derived from illegal wages,” increasing fees on temporary visas issued to Mexican CEOs and diplomats — “and if necessary cancel them” — increasing fees on border crossing cards, increasing fees on NAFTA worker visas from Mexico, and increasing fees at ports of entry between the two countries.

“Tariffs and foreign aid cuts are also options,” the immigration paper stated.

Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to questions, including whether he still envisions impounding any money. It is also unclear whether Trump would seek any input from Congress. He and other Republicans have long criticized Obama for relying too heavily on executive orders to ram through his agenda.

Under the Patriot Act, a government-issued identification is already required for routine money transfers in the United States. For high-dollar transactions additional documentation or identification can be required.

According to Matt Chandler, a former deputy chief of staff at the Homeland Security Department, financial institutions must know their customers and are required to routinely share information with the government to ensure that their banking services aren’t being used to launder money or fund terrorism.

“Not only would making procedures more onerous for day to day transactions do little to actually improve anti- money laundering or counter terrorism financing compliance programs, but could harm those efforts by driving money movement away from routinely used secure channels to underground methods,” Chandler said.

Trump’s wall is his signature policy proposal — and mere mention of the word elicits booming cheers and applause at his rallies, where supporters sometimes dress in wall shirts and costumes. Trump often leads call-and-response sessions where he asks his audience who will pay for the wall.

“Mexico!” they thunder in response.

The billionaire businessman has estimated his proposed wall would cost between $10 billion and $12 billion, and has argued that it would protect the country from illegal border crossings as well as halting drug shipment.

The memo’s release comes the day of the Wisconsin primary, where Trump has been trailing rival Ted Cruz is some recent opinion surveys.

Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto has said his country will not pay for any such wall. In an interview with the Excelsior newspaper last month, Pena Nieto compared Trump’s rhetoric to that of dictators Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, saying that language like his has led to “very fateful scenes in the history of humanity.”

Associated Press writer Peter Orsi in Mexico City, and Kathleen Hennessey and Alicia A. Caldwell, Deb Riechmann and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.

Comments (33)

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    • Mor line inside the toilet. A lot of the remittances are by US citizens and legal residents who are working legal jobs and want to support their families in Mexico. So let’s think this through; you want to stop a legal transaction of funds between individuals, good luck with that. Second, the funds are going to mexico keep and sustain those families in Mexico. Wouldn’t cutting off the funds force more Mexican resident north to earn the money they would have been receiving through remittances? Sounds like Trumps idea is counter productive.

      • The story said Trump would only limit remittances to Mexico from illegals. It said if a person can prove legal residency, that’s fine. I am no fan of Trump, but it does bother me that there is so much money being sent over the border. Furthermore, it’s not just Mexico. Here in Hawaii, there is an awfully lot of money going to countries in Asia to help support families there. Much of it is being sent by Asian illegals living here in Hawaii. This is not good for Hawaii’s economy.

        • Would you mind explaining the ramifications of the movement of salaries to other countries? Thank you

        • advertiser1, simple deduction that the money is NOT being spent within our own local economy. Now please clarify “movement of salaries” for discussion.

  • The amount of additional government we will need to make this actually viable will be immense, especially to reduce the impact of the explosive growth in black market transfers. And it would effectively nationalize the money wiring firms. And we’d need to somehow track the transfer of securities internationally. And most amusingly, would encourage illegal immigrants to stay longer to generate more money to take back at once.

    That’s the level of “thinking” for lack of better word that goes into Trump’s policies.

      • I guess ignoring that we are seeing a net outflow of illegal immigrants and that the data shows immigrants commit a far smaller proportion of crimes compared to native born is a better solution than actually working off of real data?

        I guess it’s also better to ignore that illegal farm labor is a tax cut too and that they do jobs that Americans, even during the worst years of the recession refused to do? Clearly, it’s better to deprive farmers of labor that no one else will supply and to raise taxes on everyone right? Oh shoot. Sorry, I’m blowing planetary size holes in your beliefs. Oh wait, I’m not sorry about that.

        And I guess it’s okay that we’re blowing up the size of government and increasing the drain on taxpayers for what amounts to effective lies? Because more government to deal with a problem that largely doesn’t exist is okay right? Even if it costs us all more money that could be spent elsewhere for actual problems?

        But hey, I know that Republicans like you absolutely hate facts.

        • ” it’s better to deprive farmers of labor that no one else will supply”

          I think he proposed replacing this with a legal guest worker program.

        • “I think he proposed replacing this with a legal guest worker program.”

          But how much will that supply given that we’re already seeing a net drain of illegal labor as it is? I know that dontbelieveinmyths (like so many fools here) cannot be bothered to educate themselves at all, but when we add in the costs of a legal guest worker program and who will pay for those costs, farmers will simply reduce the amount of legal labor they’re willing to pay for which ultimately increases the cost of production as they are forced to otherwise automate and the price of food. Again, bringing me back to the whole tax increase. Poorly educated fools cannot see more than 5 inches in front of their face and have ZERO capacity for thinking about unintended consequences.

          Trump is proposing a rapid expansion of government, a rapid expansion of intrusive surveillance into finances, the nationalization of private money wiring firms all to deal with a problem that is literally voting with its feet and going back to Mexico.

        • I gotta say this: Choyd is the smartest mofo on this forum and everybody should heed his words! I can imagine him with a crossword puzzle – the puzzle ain’t got no chance!!

        • dsl, my mom would do the NY Times crossword puzzle with a pen. My idea of doing that puzzle was to look at it after she was done and marvel. Her pen truly was mighty.

        • Does anyone who questions you a republican. Why do we have to be one or the other. I like policies from both parties. Why would I exclude a good idea (in my opinion) just because it comes from a particular party? Your view of me is no better than the ones you accuse of bigotry.

        • dontbelieveinmyths, can you read?

          I’m not a Republican. I don’t change my beliefs regardless of what politicians believe, unlike Winston who changes his beliefs on the fly depending on what Obama is for.

          And no, this is not a good idea. Unless you think that expanding government, nationalizing private firms and raising taxes to combat a problem that is declining on its own is a good idea.

          But that would make you even more to the left than Senator Sanders.

        • choydung, don’t blame the American worker for refusing to take jobs. Are you condoning the hiring of illegal immigrants? It is cheap illegal labor and the out sourcing of our jobs to cheap labor abroad that has produced the wage gap since business need no longer invest in the labor force with wages and benefits. Executive bonuses to those vested in the company is now the order of the day. Explain “blowing up the size of government” and why it would cost the taxpayer more if the problem does not exist.

        • Savep, out of curiosity, how did you determine that illegal immigrant wages have created the wage gap?

        • advertiser1, it’s a debatable subject of opinion for experts or forum fodder such as this. Do you have an opinion or you just want to sit on the sideline so nobody tests your logic and dings your ego?

        • advertiser1, please read the WHOLE comment. “Cheap illegal labor AND the out sourcing of our jobs”. If the statements are not logical to you please explain why or state your opinion for the sake of conversation and that I may engage with you.

    • choydung, I see nothing wrong with looking for methods to “reduce the impact of the explosive growth in black market transfers” as you call it. If money laundering tied to illegal drug activity in collaboration with Mexican cartels is involved let’s do it and make them pay for the wall in the process. “Encourage illegal immigrants to stay longer”. Maybe we need this wall to keep said “illegal immigrants” out of our country? Nothing is wrong with new ideas until proven ineffective. You are a good salesperson but there are many unhappy with the status quo and no improvement in sight.

  • I thought that Trump would triumph………….now I have serious second thoughts………throw your vote away and vote green party….alas the D party will prevail.

    • Hawaii isn’t even a factor in the presidential elections. 1st of all, the people of Hawaii don’t vote because they don’t care. Another reason is the winner is answered hours before the polls close in Hawaii anyway……So, who cares?

  • Two thoughts. The drug cartels are very effective at moving funds from the US back to Mexico. So they can double down on their business by offering a service sending remittances across the border for otherwise law-abiding Mexicans and Mexican Americans.

    But it gets better. We essentially break up with Mexico. What an opportunity for China to sweep in and replace us, maybe get a base or two up against the border in return for a few billion US dollars in aid to the Mexican economy. Mexico would then redirect its trade across the Pacific.

    Southern and western parts of the US might hurt worse than Mexico. No cheap labor and reduced markets for their goods. Meanwhile Midwestern companies would have to find a new source of materials and parts that were fabricated south of our border. I am sure the Chinese would be happy to sell them to us.

    Send in the clowns.

  • I think it interesting how some folks don’t want to build a wall or deport illegals. So what you are doing is supporting human trafficking. I say we either have an immigration policy and enforce it, or have no policy and just have an open boarder- no customs and no immigration personnel at the boarder. Pick one or the other. It is not fair that some potential immigrants try to go the legal route only to be denied, while the illegals are rewarded.

    • Sorry, I’m missing the connection here, how does deporting or not support or not support human trafficking? Don’t you think that even with a wall, or deportation that 1, people will still make it in, and 2 that there will still be those who traffic others?

  • The Donald may be bombastic, outrageous and challenging in his rhetoric BUT he is the only one of all the candidates willing to expose the problems we face. That’s why I’m favoring Trump to go all the way. The redeeming factor in his favor is that he will be flexible if he ever becomes the POTUS. Just my opinion.

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