Trump’s Plan To Build Wall along US-Mexico Border Collapses

For a man who’s constantly bragging about his business expertise, Donald Trump doesn’t seem to know the first thing about how capital markets work. If he did, he never would have issued a memo to The Washington Post outlining his outrageous plan to compel Mexico to fund the construction of a wall separating the two countries, under the threat to cut off all funds. Even the most unassuming Mexican laborer knows it would never work.

The financial faux pas is a reminder that Trump is much better at making announcements than he is at creating carefully considered policies intended to benefit the U.S. Despite his endless boasting, for most of us, Trump is nothing more than a spoiled young child screaming orders at his servants.

If the electoral polls are right, Trump’s sympathizers are mostly nativists with local support and economic difficulties. This makes them all the more susceptible to agreeing with extremist nationalistic attacks against other countries. Mexico is the perfect target.

At the heart of Trump’s campaign is his ridiculous promise to re-instate the entirety of America’s lost economic power by further restricting immigration and adopting a protectionist commercial policy. And nothing excites Trump’s followers more than his promise that Mexico will pay for his big, tall and “beautiful” wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

While Mexican politicians rarely unite over anything, they are unanimous in their belief that Trump must find another way of funding his continental partition. In February, former President Vicente Fox summed up public opinion when he used a vulgar adjective to describe Trump’s wall.

It seems the resulting Mexican backlash has sent Trump and his team running back to headquarters to cook up an offer Mexico can’t refuse. In his memo, Trump lays out a series of options to “compel Mexico to pay for the wall,” including the threat to cut off funds following a rewriting of certain clauses of the U.S. Patriot Act.

Once this becomes clear, Mexico will beg for mercy and hand over the money for the wall. “It’s an easy decision for Mexico,” says Trump in his memo. “Make a one-time payment of $5-$10bn to ensure that $24bn continues to flow into their country year after year.”

The document wouldn’t exist if Trump didn’t believe that it reflected his excellent business know-how and general expertise. And yet, anyone with more intelligence than a 5-year-old can see just how unlikely it is that Trump’s plan will have the desired effect. Rather, it will have unexpected consequences, like an increase in the crime rate for example.

For reasons of national pride, neither the Mexican government nor Congress would even consider the idea of paying out such a sum. And they would have the overwhelming backing of the Mexican public, the first to scorn Trump for labeling Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers.

According to Trump’s plan, if Mexico refuses to pay out, the U.S. government would then evoke a reform of the Patriot Act, preventing foreigners in the U.S. from sending money home unless they were able to prove that they were in the country legally.

Reforming the Patriot Act is the privilege of Congress, and any attempt by Trump to do so would be disputed in court and probably declared illegal. Even if this wasn’t the case, it’s absurd to think that this would put a stop to cash flow toward Mexico.

The most obvious loophole would be for those with documentation proving their legal status to send money on behalf of those without documentation. Equally, bank transfers are only one way of moving funds. It’s also possible that money could be deposited in U.S. bank accounts and drawn out from cash machines across the border in Mexico.

The only way Trump could succeed in preventing cash flow toward Mexico via the banking system would be to impose specific monetary regulations. However, this would most probably infringe upon U.S. duty as established in numerous international treaties.

It would also put an enormous burden on American citizens and the U.S. economy. More than one million Americans currently live in Mexico, and another 20 million visit the country each year. Additionally, Mexico is America’s third largest trade partner, and the U.S. manufacturing supply chain is highly integrated with Mexico. The suggested financial controls would destroy this mutual business relationship, which has made the North American economy the most envied in the world.

Not all migrant workers would have access to bank accounts, therefore even without the monetary restrictions, Trump’s plan would be a breeding ground for organized crime. Crime rings already specialize in transporting drug money across the border. Surely, then, they’d be more than happy to offer their delivery services to new customers.

Trump and his team want the world to know that they have more up their sleeve than just cutting off funds. The memo also proposes the idea of new tariffs, making it more costly and more challenging for Mexicans to obtain visas.

You could call it the art of extortion. But, then again, you could just call it a stupid idea.

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