Donald Trump repeated the line ad nauseum during the 2016 presidential campaign — that he was going to build a wall on America’s southern border, and he would make Mexico pay for it.
But now, as Trump threatens to shut down the U.S. government if Congress does not provide the funding to get started on the roughly $25 billion wall, critics wonder what happened to that promise or if Trump ever really intended to make Mexico pay.
Trump this week made a very public threat to members of Congress, saying during an off-the-script rally on Tuesday that he would rather shut down Washington if Congress did not pass a bill funding the border wall.
“If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” Trump said in Phoenix (via the Huffington Post). “We’re going to have our wall.”
That came in sharp contrast to Trump’s rhetoric throughout the campaign, when he revved up crowds at campaign rallies with promises to make Mexico pay for the wall. As the Huffington Post noted, experts pushed back against Trump during the campaign, saying that the wall would be unfeasible and too costly. But Trump persisted in making the wall “a symbol of his campaign, an integral part of the anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy proposals that galvanized many of his supporters,” the report added.
Since being elected, Trump has largely backed away from promises to make Mexico pay for the wall, and also faced a sharp rebuke from Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who made it clear that Mexico would not be paying.
When pressed about Nieto’s vow that Mexico would not pay for the border wall, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders appeared to largely dodge the question.
“I certainly don’t think any efforts have been abandoned,” Sanders said (via the New York Daily News). “The President is committed to making this happen and we’re going to push forward.”
Since taking office, Donald Trump has shown little push to find a way for Mexico to pay for the border wall, instead including funding in his 2018 budget blueprint.
After Donald Trump’s threat to shut down the federal government if the border wall is not funded, many critics have gone on the attack.
The flap over the border wall comes at a particularly difficult time for Donald Trump. He has seen a growing number of Republican lawmakers break ranks against him in recent weeks, especially after his controversial response to the racially charged violence in Charlottesville and his failure to condemn the white supremacists responsible. Trump has also seen his approval ratings continue to slide, with a recent poll from Gallup finding that his support fell to 34 percent.
[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]