Election 2020

Trump to Use Patriot Act (!) to Make Mexico Pay for Border Wall

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump just released his plan on how to make Mexico pay for his proposed wall along the border, and it’s a doozy. As if the idea itself wasn’t controversial enough, Trump explained he would use the Patriot Act to make it a reality.

In a memo to the Washington Post reporters Robert Costa and Bob Woodward, The Donald laid out a six-point plan to force America’s ally to the south to finance the Great Wall of Trump. Perhaps most jarring is his suggestion to use a “proposed rule” under the Patriot Act (a controversial antiterrorism law) as blackmail to force Mexico to pay a lump sum of “$5-10 billion to ensure that $24 billion continues to flow into their country year after year.”

Costa and Woodward explained that nearly $25 billion was sent home by Mexicans living abroad in 2015, according to the Mexican central bank. Trump’s memo alleged that “the majority of that amount comes from illegal aliens,” but that figure includes cash from around the world, not just the United States.

Further muddying the waters, a January Government Accountability Office report said it is difficult to track how much money undocumented Mexican immigrants send back, compared to those working legally in the United States.

Trump has not commented on how Mexico would go back to receiving such payments after The Donald had deported all 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States, another policy he has advocated previously (and has not yet completely walked back). It strains credulity to think that the amount Mexican families receive from illegals working in the United States (whatever it actually is) would somehow be restored after the illegals were deported back to that country.

The memo cited the Patriot Act’s “know your customer” provision, which compels “financial institutions to demand identity documents before opening accounts or conducting financial transactions.” Trump would threaten to enforce this law, and make it impossible for illegals to send funds to Mexico, thus strong-arming America’s southern ally into paying the cost of the wall.

The Donald argued that this strong-arming will work because the money from illegals in the United States “serves as de facto welfare for poor families in Mexico,” since “there is no significant social safety net provided by the state in Mexico.”

If this Patriot Act strategy does not work, Trump suggested trade tariffs. “There is no doubt that Mexico is engaging in unfair subsidy behavior which we are obligated to respond to; the ‘cost’ of any tariffs will be more than offset by the economic gains of increased production in the United States,” the memo read. This anti-trade logic does not work in practice and arguably led to the Great Depression.

The Donald would also wield a different weapon against Mexico — canceling visas. “Immigration is a privilege, not a right,” the memo declared. “Mexico is totally dependent on the United States as a release valve for its own poverty — our approvals of hundreds of thousands of visas every year is one of our greatest leverage points.” This proposal might actually make sense and would prove easier to implement than the other suggestions, although it would likely be taken as an affront against America’s southern neighbor.

Finally, Trump suggested visa fees. “Even a small increase in visa fees would pay for the wall,” argues the memo, citing border crossing cards, of which more than 1 million are issued annually.

Next Page: Justifying these measures, Obama’s response.

Trump backed up his anti-Mexico rhetoric by accusing the country of misusing the United States. His plans to make them pay are only retaliation:

Mexico has taken advantage of us in another way as well: gangs, drug traffickers and cartels have freely exploited our open borders and committed vast numbers of crimes inside the United States. The United States has borne the extraordinary daily cost of this criminal activity, including the cost of trials and incarcerations. Not to mention the even greater human cost. We have the moral high ground here, and all the leverage. It is time we use it in order to Make America Great Again.

It is important that America addresses these threats, but Trump’s method of blaming Mexico’s government for these problems is just as simplistic as ignoring the issue altogether.

Naturally, President Obama had harsh words against Trump’s plans. “This is just one more example of something that is not thought through and is primarily put forward for political consumption,” the president wrote in a statement to the Washington Post.

“The implications with respect to ending remittances — many of which, by the way, are from legal immigrants and from individuals who are sending money back to their families — are enormous [and] impractical,” Obama argued. “The notion that we’re going to track every Western Union bit of money that’s being sent to Mexico, good luck with that.”

It’s very rare for PJ Media ever to agree with Barack Obama, but you know what they say about broken clocks.