President Donald Trump has made the border wall a key part of his campaign and presidency, insisting that the barrier will be paid for by Mexico. On Wednesday, however, White House strategic communications director Mercedes Schlapp admitted that U.S. taxpayers will be on the hook for paying for the wall, according to CNN.
When pressed by CNN reporter Jim Sciutto on Wednesday on whether American taxpayers would foot the bill for the wall, Schlapp responded in the affirmative.
“And you know what else taxpayers are paying for? The financial burden of this illegal immigration,” she added.
Schlapp also repeated Trump’s frequent claim that the new trade deal would mean that Mexico is covering the costs associated with the wall.
It is “going to bring more jobs back to America, it’s bringing more business back to America and it’s also going to keep our wages up,” she said. “So this trade deal, in effect, does help pay for our border security.”
Originally, Trump claimed that Mexico would pay for the wall entirely.
“Mexico will pay for the wall!” he wrote on Twitter in 2016.
Mexico denied this claim. In a televised address, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said Mexico “does not believe in walls.”
Since then, Trump has received criticism from people claiming he is breaking his campaign promise by requesting money to build a wall. Lately, Trump has revised his stance, admitting that U.S. government will need to use taxpayer money to build the barrier initially, but insists that the cost will be entirely recovered with his revamped U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal. During his Oval Office address to the nation on Tuesday, Trump reiterated this claim.
“The wall will also be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico,” he said.
Last week, he stated that the new trade deal qualifies as keeping his campaign promise to have Mexico pay for the wall.
“I view that as absolutely Mexico is paying for the wall,” he said in the Rose Garden.
....The Wall will be paid for, directly or indirectly, or through longer term reimbursement, by Mexico, which has a ridiculous $71 billion dollar trade surplus with the U.S. The $20 billion dollar Wall is “peanuts” compared to what Mexico makes from the U.S. NAFTA is a bad joke!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2018
Despite Trump’s repeated claims, the White House has provided no clear evidence on how much money the revised deal would bring, nor how those financial gains would cover the U.S.-Mexico border wall. Additionally, Trump’s U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal hasn’t been approved by Congress. Some experts believe, however, that any additional money realized by the revised trade deal would primarily go into the pockets of business owners and increase the wages of some workers, but not directly benefit the government, nor pay for the wall.