Donald Trump frequently repeated, during the 2016 campaign, that he would force Mexico to make a direct payment to build a border wall. He detailed to journalists a plan to force the southern neighbor to pay between $5 billion and $10 billion to fund its construction.
Now, in an abrupt change, Trump claims that he "obviously never meant" that Mexico would write a check to directly pay for the wall. The about-face comes as the partial government shutdown over border wall funding approaches the third week -- what may soon become the longest shutdown in American history. As the Independent pointed out, Trump appears to have backed away from the statements made during the 2016 campaign -- and on his campaign website -- that Mexico would make a "one-time payment of $5-$10 billion."
Trump now claims that Mexico would indirectly fund the wall through changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement, though these changes have not yet been approved by Congress.
Though Trump now claims that Mexico would be "paying for the wall indirectly, many, many times over," he had previously shared with journalists a detailed memo of how he intended to make Mexico pay directly for the wall. As Politico noted, Trump's memo claimed that he would threaten to block all wire transfers from Mexican immigrants living in the United States towards their families in Mexico, stopping as much as $24 billion from entering the Mexican economy. Trump said he would enact this within his first three days in office, using that leverage to make Mexico make a direct payment for the border 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 stated.
The gambit never came to fruition. As CNBC reported, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto publicly rejected any notion that Mexico would pay for the border wall, and Trump did not follow through on the plan outlined in the memo.With the partial government shutdown now approaching three weeks in length, Trump has floated a new strategy to secure funding for the border wall. He has discussed declaring a state of emergency, one which would give him the power to use already appropriated military funding in order to fund its construction. Such a declaration would be likely to be met with legal challenges.
The memo detailing how Donald Trump would make Mexico pay directly for the border wall has since been taken down from his 2016 campaign website.