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Trump Memo: Mexico Pays or I Cut Off Remittances

Trump Memo: Mexico Pays or I Cut Off Remittances

By    |   Tuesday, 05 April 2016 08:01 AM

Donald Trump says he'll force Mexico to pay for a border wall by threatening to cut off  billions of dollars Mexican immigrants send home — a plan whose feasibility is unclear both legally and politically, and which would test the bounds of a president's executive powers to pressure another country, The Washington Post reports. 

A two-page memo sent to the newspaper by the Republican presidential front-runner gives details of his key campaign promise to make Mexico pay for the 1,000-mile barrier between the United States and its key diplomatic ally to the south.

In his proposal, Trump threatens to change a rule under the Patriot Act anti-terrorism law to cut off money transfers sent to Mexico, and adds he'd withdraw the threat if Mexico makes "a one-time payment of $5 to $10 billion" to finance the wall, the Post reported.

Entitled "Compelling Mexico to Pay for the Wall," the memo is the latest attempt by the Republican presidential front-runner to offer more specifics about his proposal at a time when he faces tough head winds going into delegate rich states and the surging candidacy of rival Sen. Ted Cruz, along with the continued challenge from Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

It includes rationales for a number of potential intimidation tactics, including increased trade tariffs, the cancellation of visas, and higher fees for border-crossing cards.

But at the core of Trump's approach is a focus on the remittances of illegal immigrants, which he argues are crucial to Mexican economic stability and are a way of pressuring the country to disburse billions of dollars to the United States to fund construction of his wall.

Starting on "day 1," Trump writes, he would issue a warning to Mexico that unless it pays his desired amount, he will promulgate a new federal provision that would lead to a sweeping confiscation of funds sent by Mexicans in the United States who lack documentation of their "lawful presence."

On "day 2," Mexico "would immediately protest." But he would declare that Mexico must choose between the enforcement of his provision or acquiescing.

To explain how he would have the standing to pursue his aggressive strategy, Trump cites a provision in the Code of Federal Regulations that sets the standards for financial institutions in identifying their customers.

That provision, Trump says, makes it possible for the executive branch to "issue detailed regulations on the subject." He predicts Mexico would react by initially balking, then doing what he wants.

Trump writes "if the Mexican government will contribute $__ billion to the United States to pay for the wall, the Trump administration will not promulgate the final rule, and the regulation will not go into effect."

Other aspects of Trump's plan include "trade tariffs, or enforcement of existing trade rules," "cancelling visas" and "visa fees."

"Our approvals of hundreds of thousands of visas every year is one of our greatest leverage points," Trump writes. "We also have leverage through business and tourist visas for important people in the Mexican economy."

Trump ends with a scathing critique of Mexico, claiming it has "taken advantage" of the United States for years through "gangs, drug traffickers and cartels" responsible for "the extraordinary daily cost of this criminal activity."

"We have the moral high ground here, and all the leverage," Trump concludes.

After reviewing Trump's proposal, one expert on immigration law tells the Post he's skeptical.

"Trump is giving an extremely broad definition of this section of the Patriot Act and what it allows, and it'd surely be litigated," Stuart Anderson, executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy, tells the Post.

"It would be a large expansion beyond what the text reads."

Anderson also said Trump's memo leaves unaddressed how normal financial transactions across borders would be affected and whether there would be an overly aggressive federal intrusion into the growing number of financial transactions that take place over the Internet.

Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto has said his country will not pay for any such wall.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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A published report says Donald Trump would force Mexico to pay for a border wall, if elected president, by cutting off billions of dollars in remittances by immigrants living in the U.S.
US, GOP 2016, Trump, Border Wall
Tuesday, 05 April 2016 08:01 AM
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