MEXICO CITY » Mexican Finance Minister Luis Videgaray says Donald Trump’s proposal to force the country to pay for a wall along the U.S. border, or face economic consequences if it doesn’t, is a kind of diplomatic harassment that’s doomed to fail.
“Mexico will not pay for that wall, not only because it doesn’t make any sense for either Mexico or the U.S. to enter into that type of threat rhetoric, but it’s also a matter of dignity,” Videgaray said in Washington. “There’s no way in which Mexico can be bullied into doing such a thing.”
The Republican presidential candidate said in a memo this month that as president, he would block payments that Mexican workers in the U.S. send to their home country, known as remittances, if Mexico’s government refuses to pay for a wall he wants to build along the roughly 2,000-mile border. Trump has said the wall would subdue illegal immigration and cost $8 billion to $10 billion. Officials in Mexico have repeatedly said they have no intention of paying for it.
Mexico has taken action to counteract Trump’s anti-immigrant message, including an effort to covert the country’s many permanent residents in the U.S. into citizens, a status that would enable them to vote — presumably against Trump. Officially, Mexico says it respects U.S. sovereignty and has no strategy to influence the result of the presidential race. Yet diplomats are mobilizing to assist immigrants in gaining U.S. citizenship, hosting free workshops on naturalization.
About 12 million Mexicans live in the U.S. and almost half lack legal status, according to a study released in November by the Pew Research Center. Still, more Mexicans left the U.S. than arrived from 2009 to 2014, according to the nonpartisan research group. Trump, front-runner for the 2016 Republican nomination, began off his candidacy with invective directed at Mexican immigrants and a promise to build the border wall.
“The proposal to make Mexico pay for a wall and trying to achieve that through a set of threats is a proposal that has already failed,” said Videgaray, who was attending the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
Mexico received $24.8 billion in remittances last year, the highest level since 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In 2012, 98 percent of remittances to the Latin American nation’s $1.29 trillion economy came from the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center.
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