Donald Trump’s key campaign promises – “Lock Her Up” and “Build the Wall” – were some of the silver bullets which helped him won the presidency. After his incredible victory, supporters are anxiously waiting for the TV-reality star to fulfil his promises. Understandably, so-called liberal mainstream media have been playing up Trump’s promises whenever they can.
Incoming President Trump, to the disappointment of his supporters, had said his administration will not pursue further investigations of Hillary Clinton related to her private email server or the Clinton Foundation. That was a huge betrayal of his promise after Trump memorably told Clinton in a presidential debate that he would put her in jail.
Trump could have easily said that he would not interfere and instead leave it to his new U.S. Attorney General and the U.S. Justice of Department to decide whether to lock up Clinton, to whom he nicknamed “Crooked Hillary”. However, that would still make Trump a narrow-minded and vengeful person because everybody knows the U.S. Attorney General is appointed by the U.S. president.
In truth, any post-election vendetta against Clinton would be twisted by critics as proof that Trump is not fit as the 45th President of the United States, let alone commander-in-chief, because he demonstrates dictatorship. Trump administration would become the first U.S. authoritarian regime who put his rival in prison and that could make Hillary Clinton some sort of a martyr instead.
But if Trump keeps breaking all his campaign promises, he can forget about his second term. His supporters would definitely vote for Democrats even if the party put a monkey as its candidate. Therefore, he has no choice but to make good of some of his campaign promises. If he can’t “lock her up”, can he at least “build the wall”?
The short answer is “yes”. The long answer is he needs money, lots of them, between US$12 billion to US$38 billion for the “Great Wall of Mexico”. “Build the wall” was not only a key campaign promise from the Republican, but also a popular chant at his rallies. “Who’s going to pay for the wall?” Trump asked crowds during his campaign, who would reply: “Mexico!”
The US$12 billion was estimated by Donald Trump but according to an analysis published by MIT Technology Review, the cost could easily triples to US$38 billion, depending on the type of barriers – single or double layers – and how much of the border the wall covers. Trump previously admitted some part of the border could be fenced, instead of walled.
Like it or not, Donald Trump will be forced to build the wall. It doesn’t need to be as impressive as the Great Wall of China. He could just build a small length of the wall and claim his administration has done an awesome job. No matter what, he needs to start the construction of the wall before asking Americans for his second term.
Unlike the promise to lock up “Crooked Hillary” where his supporters might buy the excuse that it would be cruel to send a grandmother to prison, it will be hard to justify why President Donald Trump couldn’t build a wall along the Mexican border to stop or slow illegal immigration. Donald is lucky because the legislation he will need to build the promised wall is already there.
Thanks to former President George W. Bush, he signed the Secure Fence Act on October 26, 2006 into law, after it was passed in the Senate 80 – 19. The law called for 700 miles (1,100 km) of physical barriers or fencing to be built along the US-Mexico border to decrease illegal entry, drug trafficking, and security threats. However, it was never built due to financial issue.
Democrats in Congress have blocked funding, arguing the barrier is too costly and a step away from their stated goal of “comprehensive immigration reform”. So when the news broke that Republicans might ask Congress and U.S. taxpayers to first foot the bill to finally build a double-layer secure wall along the border with Mexico as originally intended 10 years ago, all hell breaks loose.
The plan for taxpayers to advance the cash was seen as a broken promise by some of Trump’s most ardent supporters. After all, it was Trump who promised not only the wall, but that Mexicans would be made to pay for it. Frustrated, President-elect Trump was forced to tweet that the “dishonest media” had failed to report that “any money spent on building the Great Wall” would be reimbursed.
Understandably, Trump administration has to take the first step towards building the wall because there’s no way Mexico would write a giant cheque of between US$12 billion and US$38 billion to the U.S federal government. Therefore, American taxpayers have to pay first. Once construction gets underway, Trump has said he will demand reimbursement from the Mexican government.
Sure, the Mexican officials have said they will refuse to cooperate. Even if they’re willing to pay, they can’t say it publicly for obvious reason. But there’re various ways to force the Mexicans to pay for the border – either directly or indirectly. As a start, Trump could impose a fee on financial remittances sent home by Mexicans working in the U.S. illegally.
Mexico took in nearly US$25 billion in 2015 alone in remittances from Mexican nationals working in the United States – largely from those working illegally. Trump can be nasty and threaten to cut off transfers of money to Mexico, unless the Mexican government agrees to pay for the wall, something which he had suggested during his presidential campaign.
Trump had also revealed in a memo that he could threaten to change a rule under the USA Patriot Act antiterrorism law to cut off a portion of the funds sent to Mexico through money transfers, commonly known as remittances. The threat would be withdrawn if Mexico made “a one-time payment of US$5-10 billion” to pay for the border wall.
The second way to get the money could be done on the American soil – cutting a child tax break for illegal immigrants currently enjoying. That could raise, or rather save, as much as US$4 billion which could then be diverted for the construction of the wall. Of course, this measure could spark protests but it would be fun to see how Trump plans to deal with them.
The third way suggested by Trump – the U.S. could try to pressure Mexico by reducing or slowing down the process by which Mexicans get travel cards and visitors’ visas. The fourth way is to simply divert money that Washington sends to Mexico every year, of which more than US$400 million in foreign aid was sent in 2013 alone.
The final way is the trade tariffs such as NAFTA. Again, President Trump can always threaten to change or scrap the 1994 NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) if Mexico refuses to play balls. After forcing Ford to abandon its plant in Mexico, the country could risk a 35% tariff on cars imported from Mexico from other manufacturers.
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