Despite repeatedly claiming during his campaign and into his presidency that Mexico would pay for his promised border wall, President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he made no such statement: He “obviously never meant Mexico would write a check” to cover the expense, Trump said.
The Independent noted that Trump did in fact say during his campaign that Mexico should make a direct payment for his planned wall, which he is now trying to force American taxpayers to cover by keeping the government in partial shutdown until congressional Democrats authorize funding.
The 2016 promise that Mexico would directly pay for the wall was also included in a ‘Pay for the Wall’ memo Mr Trump’s team issued early that year that proposed pressuring Mexico by cutting off remittances sent from undocumented Mexicans in the United States. It proposed amending the Patriot Act, passed after the September 11, 2001 attacks, to include wire transfers as accounts that could be frozen.
“It’s an easy decision for Mexico: make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion to ensure that $24 billion (in remittances) continues to flow into their country year after year,” the memo said. “We have the leverage, so Mexico will back down,” it said.
Hedging on that idea in recent weeks, Trump shifted to saying that Mexico will pay for the wall via the new trade deal his administration negotiated last year, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which has yet to be approved by Congress.
The USMCA will mean Mexico will be “paying for wall indirectly, many, many times over,” Mr Trump said on Thursday. He then boarded Air Force One to fly to McAllen, Texas, where he hopes to drum up support for Congressional approval for US taxpayer funding to build the wall.
If Congress does not approve funding for the wall, Trump said he will find another way to do it, namely by declaring a national emergency: “If we don’t make a deal, I think it would be very surprising to me [if I don’t declare a state of emergency].”