Two page memo sent to the Washington Post outlines how he will achieve this over three days
Promises to accomplish by using the Patriot Act to track private money transfers from Mexican-Americans to family in Mexico
When you’ve had a rough week, return to your xenophobic roots and threaten to exploit America’s most notoriously authoritarian legislation.
That’s what Donald Trump is doing, anyhow.
In a two-page memo sent exclusively to the Washington Post, Trump outlined for the first time how he would forcibly exact Mexican labor and funding to pay for his 1,000-mile border fence, which the GOP front-runner has made a cornerstone of his presidential campaign, and which has also been repeatedly mocked and disavowed by Mexican leaders, both past and presently ruling.
The proposal would involve dialing in and ultimately restricting a stream of cash that most economists stress as vital to the well being of the Mexican economy. In the memo, Trump says he would threaten to change a rule under the USA Patriot Act anti-terrorism law which cuts off a portion of the funds sent to Mexico through money transfers, more commonly known as remittances.
The memo states that the threat would be “withdrawn” if Mexico made a one-time payment of $5-10 billion” to pay for the border wall, he explains. Additionally, this would all be accomplished in just three days.
On day 1, promulgate a “proposed rule” (regulation) amending 31 CFR 130.121 to redefine applicable financial institutions to include money transfer companies like Western Union, and redefine “account” to include wire transfers. Also include in the proposed rule a requirement that no alien may wire money outside of the United States unless the alien first provides a document establishing his lawful presence in the United States.
On day 2 Mexico will immediately protest. They receive approximately $24 billion a year in remittances from Mexican nationals working in the United States. The majority of that amount comes from illegal aliens. It serves as de facto welfare for poor families in Mexico. There is no significant social safety net provided by the state in Mexico.
On day 3 tell Mexico that if the Mexican government will contribute $5-10 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.
“It’s an easy decision for Mexico,” writes an emboldened Trump in the memo, fancied on stationary with his trademark “Make America Great Again” slogan.
The Post notes that Trump is, yet again, wildly exaggerating in his claim that Mexican-Americans send home nearly $25 billion annually, as that figure includes cash from around the world, not just the United States. Even that figure is said to be unstable.
Stripping aside temporarily the enormous consequences and precedent that amending a piece of legislation that is already notorious for its legally sanctioned infringement of civil liberties – and how this proposed amendment from Trump could create a precedent to be used against any American citizen Trump wants something from, regardless of nationality – in the immediate short-term what Trump is proposing would put regional and diplomatic relationships imminently at risk, part of an increasingly isolationist tone he has adopted throughout his campaign which subsequently demonstrates an utter lack of knowledge on global policy.
“Donald Trump is again proving just how dangerous he would be for America,” Democratic National Committee Communications Director Luis Miranda said in a statement, “He has repeatedly shown that he has no knowledge and understanding of how to foster diplomatic relationships, threatens relationships with our key allies and would undermine our economic security both domestically and internationally.”
While this broad interpretation of the Patriot Act would be unlikely to pass without legal challenge, it is nonetheless terrifying that his authoritarian tendencies exist this far rightward, and it offers a window into the mind of somebody unable to comprehend the enormous global consequences his brand of unilateralism would undoubtedly bring.
“Trump is giving an extremely broad definition of this section of the Patriot Act and what it allows, and it’d surely be litigated,” said Stuart Anderson, executive director of Virginia nonpartisan think tank National Foundation for American Policy, “It would be a large expansion beyond what the text reads.”
In typical fashion, Trump ended the memo echoing something that has become a staple of his talking points on the campaign trail, claiming that Mexico 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” which has, of course, been proven to be patently and irrefutably false.