Donald Trump Asks Congress, Not Mexico, To Pay For His Border Wall

Once again, Donald Trump has played his supporters for suckers.

Donald Trump Shrug

During the election campaign, Donald Trump told his supporters repeatedly that he would build a wall on the southern U.S. border and that Mexico would pay for it, now it’s being reported that the incoming Administration will ask Congress to pay for the wall:

President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has signaled to congressional Republican leaders that his preference is to fund the border wall through the appropriations process as soon as April, according to House Republican officials.

The move would break a key campaign promise when Trump repeatedly said he would force Mexico to pay for the construction of the wall along the border, though in October, Trump suggested for the first time that Mexico would reimburse the US for the cost of the wall.

Trump defended that proposal Friday morning in a tweet, saying the move to use congressional appropriations was because of speed.

“The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!” Trump tweeted Friday.

New York Rep. Chris Collins said Friday that American taxpayers would front the cost for the wall but that he was confident Trump could negotiate getting the money back from Mexico.

“When you understand that Mexico’s economy is dependent upon US consumers, Donald Trump has all the cards he needs to play,” Collins, congressional liaison for the Trump transition team, told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day.” “On the trade negotiation side, I don’t think it’s that difficult for Donald Trump to convince Mexico that it’s in their best interest to reimburse us for building the wall.”

The Trump team argues it will have the authority through a Bush-era 2006 law to build the wall, lawmakers say, but it lacks the money to do so. Transition officials have told House GOP leaders in private meetings they’d like to pay for the wall in the funding bill, a senior House GOP source said.

“It was not done in the Obama administration, so by funding the authorization that’s already happened a decade ago, we could start the process of meeting Mr. Trump’s campaign pledge to secure the border,” Indiana Republican Rep. Luke Messer said on Thursday.

Messer admitted it’s “big dollars, but it’s a question of priorities.” He pointed to a border security bill that Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul proposed last year that cost roughly $10 billion.

“Democrats may well find themselves in the position to shut down all of government to stop the buildout of a wall, or of a barrier, or of a fence,” Messer said.
Mexican leaders have repeatedly said they will not pay for the wall.

The Associated Press and Politico first reported elements of the talks earlier Thursday.

If Mexico refuses to pay for the wall, the GOP could add billions of dollars into the spending bill that needs to pass by April 28 to keep the government open. But doing so would force a showdown with Senate Democrats and potentially threaten a government shutdown.

No decisions have been made, GOP sources said.

The news hardly comes as a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention, of course. Virtually from the moment that Trump first announced this plan, repeated statements from officials in the Mexican government have indicated that it would be their position that Mexico would never pay for the wall. As Trump’s critics pointed out repeatedly during the campaign, it was unlikely that Mexico would ever change its position on this issue and that Trump’s repeated statements to the contrary were little more than another example of the bluster and boasting that personified his campaign for the Presidency from the beginning. In that sense, the news that the incoming Administration now plans to ask Congress to allocate money for the construction of this so-called wall would seem to be yet another example of a Trump campaign promise that is likely to fall far short of reality once he actually gets into office. The Trump transition team, of course, isn’t admitting this, and continues to insist that it would seek reimbursement for the cost of the wall from Mexico. Collecting on that debt, however, is likely to prove impossible:

{T}he proposals Trump has outlined to coerce Mexico into paying for the wall involve controversial measures that would still likely fail to cover the wall’s full cost.

According to Trump’s website, those steps could include: remittance seizure, potential tariffs and foreign aids cuts, increasing fees on temporary visas issued to Mexican CEOs and diplomats, increasing fees on border crossing cards, increasing fees on NAFTA worker visas; and increasing fees at ports of entry to the US from Mexico.

A major challenge for judging Trump’s proposal is that most of those steps amount to a drop in the bucket — less than $1 billion — compared to the proposed cost of the wall. And the one step that could provide the required amount of money — remittance seizure — would face major legal obstacles, in addition to the likelihood of severe domestic and international backlash.

Total US foreign aid to Mexico is less than $200 million a year ($186,000,000 in the 2014 fiscal year), so redirecting all of that money to a border wall would only put a mild dent in the $8 billion bill. And it’s difficult to know the amount of revenue generated from a tariff on Mexican exports — or to account for potential losses from a retaliatory tariff — without the specifics of the tax.

Moving next to fee increases, Trump says on his website that “even a small increase in visa fees would pay for the wall. This includes fees on border crossing cards, of which more than 1 million are issued a year.” But the fees for visas and border crossing cards range from around $150 to $200 each, according to State Department data. Accounting for all the fees on over a million border crossing cards and visas in a year year — and even accounting for a twofold increase in those fees — that would still only generate about half a billion dollars, well short of an $8 billion price tag.

The biggest potential source of money for the wall would come from remittance seizure: remittance payments are money that immigrants, legal and illegal, earn in their country of residence and send back to their families in their native country.

According to the bank of Mexico, Mexico received $24.8 billion in remittance payments in 2015. A Fox News Latino report calculated that 97% of remittance payments received by Mexico in the first three months of 2015 came from the US, and the Pew Research Center similarly reported that “nearly all” of Mexico’s remittance payment revenue comes from the U.S.” Seizing all of that money would probably be more than enough to pay for the border wall.

The problem with relying on remittances, of course, is that this money is the personal property of the Mexicans and Mexican-Americans who are sending money back to friends and/or family members, not the property of the Mexican government. Any effort on Trump’s part to use these reimbursements to cover the alleged cost of a border wall, then, would likely result in a myriad of lawsuits that the Federal Government would in all likelihood lose. Therefore, unless the Mexican government somehow magically decides to the change its mind and pay for the wall, the entire structure, most of which is already pointless given the fact that we have a border fence in place that has proven quite effective in preventing border crossings in particular areas, would end up being paid for by the American taxpayer. Trump and his people are likely smart enough to realize this, but hope that they’ll be able to deceive the public long enough that nobody will notice. Given how the election turned out, they could be right.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Borders and Immigration, Congress, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    Gosh, imagine my surprise. Yet another Trump lie? You could knock me over with a feather.

  2. RWB says:

    ““The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!” Trump tweeted Friday.”

    I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a border wall today!

  3. Hal_10000 says:


    Yep. You knew the Baby-Elect couldn’t go ten seconds without denouncing the media for his baloney.

  4. SenyorDave says:

    @RWB: ““The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!” Trump tweeted Friday.”

    Another version of Wimpy telling the cafe proprietor that he “will gladly pay you Tuesday” . Of course has every incentive in the world to pay for the wall. Are there really people so stupid they believe Trump on anything?

  5. CSK says:

    I just checked over at Trump Central, aka The consensus seems to be that the press is lying about what Trump promised, and even if they aren’t lying, the wall will cost less than all the Obamas’ vacations. So there.

    I’m not joking about this. There is absolutely nothing Trump can do or say that will discourage a true believer. When they’re confronted with an undeniable blatant lie, Trumpkins will tell you that Trump is just cleverly misleading the press.

  6. CSK says:


    “Are there people really so stupid they believe Trump on anything,” you ask.

    Yes. His cult members. L. Ron Hubbard would be jealous.

  7. CSK says:


    The Baby-Elect is now, officially, the 45th Baby of the United States. His electoral votes have been certified.

  8. Pch101 says:

    All and all, it’s just another trick in the wall.

    We don’t need no education, indeed.

  9. CSK says:


    As Trump himself said: “I love the poorly educated.”

    Of course he does.

  10. HarvardLaw92 says:
  11. george says:

    On the plus side, we can hope he was also lying about almost everything else he promised/threatened as well. And in fact, given Trump’s personality, that might not be wishful thinking. Its easy to believe he’s just making it up as he goes along – his only ideology is that Donald Trump is all important.

    I still think he never expected to be elected, he was just running as a way of papering over his financial difficulties.

  12. C. Clavin says:

    Where are all the Trump sycophants defending him on this?
    JKB? Gavrillo? Guarneri? bill?

  13. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @C. Clavin: Waiting to hear from their Russian masters what the talking points should be. I don’t know why anyone continues to engage with those fake news/misinformation trolls at all.

  14. LaMont says:

    I’m almost positive Trump will make this a big deal. It’ll be interesting to see just how many Republicans suckers we actually have in our government!

  15. gVOR08 says:

    Donald Trump Asks Congress, Not Mexico, To Pay For His Border Wall


  16. CSK says:


    Oh, of course he lies about everything–it’s a reflex with him–but he compounds that by blurting out as a policy or a promise whatever comes into his head at any given moment, so the lies have a tendency to shape-shift. That may be worse than someone who sticks to the same lies consistently.

    His acolytes will tell you that that is the way Trump keeps the press and the “elites” of the Democratic and Republican parties off-balance. It’s as if they believe they, and only they, have some secret insight into what he really means when he speaks or Tweets.

  17. C. Clavin says:

    The Intelligence Communities report on Russian Hacking of the Presidential Election has dropped.
    It’s going to be pretty hard to see Trump as legitimate after this…especially given his childish response.

    From the report:

    This report is a declassified version of a highly classified assessment; its conclusions are identical to those in the highly classified assessment but this version does not include the full supporting information on key elements of the influence campaign.

    Key Judgments
    Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations. We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments. We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-
    elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.
    All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence

    Trumps response:

    “While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat [sic] National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines”

    But that conclusion is based upon his own opinion and NOT the report…which specifically does not address that topic. It’s really not even convincing spin…although I’m sure it will satisfy the sycophants.

  18. Scott F. says:


    I hope to heaven that when Trump demands Mexico pay up, assuming he grows the cajones to even ask, that the Mexican president will respond precisely “Maybe he (Trump) didn’t do a good job and I was unsatisfied with his work”* when he refuses to pay a penny.

    * Trump quote from Sept. 26 debate with Clinton when she called him on stiffing contractors

  19. Gustopher says:

    @Scott F.: The wall will be built by Mexican contractors, and we will then refuse to actually pay.

  20. bill says:

    @michael reynolds: stop drinking so much!

    anyhow- i’m sure he’ll squeeze some money outta that 3rd world shithole one way or the other.
    heck, just the $900mil that ford decided not to invest there is a start!

  21. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Somewhat off-topic, but Dean Heller is up to his usual “move the embassy to Jerusalem” ass-hattery again. Cruz and Rubio have signed on as co-sponsors this time around.

    Only this time, he proposes to freeze, worldwide, 50% of all embassy security funding (except for the embassy in Israel, of course) unless and until we move the embassy to Jerusalem and it actually opens for business.

    Now, aside from the multitude of reasons (and they are legion) why moving it is a ridiculously lousy idea (can anyone say “Third Intifada”?), I’m still trying to grasp the level of hypocrisy inherent in this bill coming from three people who certainly never uttered the word “Benghazi” in their lives … 🙄

    I get that this is mostly symbolic flag-waving aimed at their bible beater constituencies, but Christ, these people just have no shame. Zero. Nada. Done … 😐

  22. Slugger says:

    Te pagaremos más tarde, más tarde

  23. HarvardLaw92 says:

    heck, just the $900mil that ford decided not to invest there is a start!

    Give it time. Ford is still moving production of the Focus to Mexico. They’re investing $700 million in the US in order to reap tax credits related to the production of electric vehicles. Rumor has it that they are 1) worried about maintaining eligibility for and 2) intend to borrow this funding, along with a basket of additional needs, from ATVMLP. They just had abysmal 3rd and 4th quarter sales numbers, and they need the cash. Borrowing it from the government at rock bottom rates with enormous repayment horizons is a no-brainer, so it makes sense to play a little PR here in order to keep the folks who control the tap happy.

    Nine out of the last 11 car manufacturing plants built in North America were constructed in Mexico, and US auto manufacturing still hasn’t fully recouped the jobs lost in the recession. It probably never will. This trend only goes one way in the end.

    The short version of that is that, once again, US manufacturing labor is largely only viable when it is subsidized by the taxpayers.

  24. Terrye Cravens says:

    I heard a Trump flunky on NPR not long ago state that the wall was not going to be any 2,000 miles long either. More like 200.

  25. anjin-san says:


    that 3rd world shithole

    You seem quite desperate to have people to look down on. It leads people to speculate that your own life is pretty pathetic…

  26. frogger says:

    What stops Mexicans from bypassing remittances entirely by using a Hawala-like system to send money instead? There isn’t much infrastructure now but you can bet one will spring up overnight if Trump starts seizing remittances.

    Somebody must have thought about countermeasures, this is “put a ladder over top of the wall” level of no-brainer.

  27. HarvardLaw92 says:


    Not surprising. Volkswagen has had an enormous presence in Puebla for decades (second largest VW plant in the world …)

    GM is investing billions in Mexico as we speak, as are Honda, Nissan, etc.

    The reasons why aren’t difficult to ascertain – a highly motivated and productive workforce with fewer labor problems at a fraction of the cost of equivalent US workers.

    Ford, for example, pays its US workers an average of around $29 per hour. Their Mexican counterparts earn about $5.50 and consider themselves to be well paid. This trend only goes in one direction.

  28. beelzebob says:

    @Scott F.: cojones. Cajones are something else

  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @anjin-san: It’s also pretty obvious that he has never been to Mexico, one of the more beautiful countries I have been to and blessed with a kind and generous people.

  30. MBunge says:

    I don’t know how Trump can survive this. It’s simply unprecedented for a President to break a campaign pledge. It’s not as if Barack Obama opposed an individual mandate and then made it a central element of his health care reform or Bill Clinton promised middle class tax cuts and then actually signed a significant middle class tax increase.


    Seriously, it’s can be therapeutic to trash the other side but let’s think about it.

    Does anyone actually think his supporters will be upset if Trump builds the wall but only gets Mexico to “pay” for a fraction of it? And wouldn’t it be incredibly foolish for Trump to get into a big fight with Mexico over paying for the wall before it’s built? It could take months or years to resolve that, which means it would be months or years before construction could start.

    Frankly, this move demonstrates that Trump is genuinely planning to build the wall, something plenty of his critics doubted, and that the wall is likely going to get built, another thing his critics doubted.


  31. C. Clavin says:


    Does anyone actually think his supporters will be upset if Trump builds the wall but only gets Mexico to “pay” for a fraction of it?

    No…they won’t. Because they are unprincipled hypocrites whose only real concern is keeping the “others” in check. They are cultural warriors who are driven by bigotry and hatred and fear. And the fact that they won’t care about the wall is just one more indicator of that.
    Trump was elected by Russia and Jim Comey a bunch of red-necks.
    At least Bush was elected by the SCOTUS.

  32. Bob@Youngstown says:


    Frankly, this move demonstrates that Trump is genuinely planning to build the wall, something plenty of his critics doubted, and that the wall is likely going to get built, another thing his critics doubted.

    Whether or not Donald “planned” to build is not at issue. What I have significant skepticism around is that Congress will approve 8-12 billion to construct a, for the most part, symbolic wall.
    While the American voter maybe conned into believing that Mexico will “eventually” reimburse the US, I hope that Congress is not as gullible.

  33. al-Ameda says:

    This is what a significant minority of the voters wanted. They thought Trump would be the guy to begin a Kansas type of ‘back to zero’ process at the national level.

    Do I wish these people well in their efforts to bring us back to 1928? Not now, not ever.

  34. Pch101 says:


    Mexican unions have a certain fondness of strikes, so no, I would not say that the labor situation there is much better. Cheaper, yes, but not better.

    Audi’s likely motivation for building a plant in Mexico is that Mexico has a free trade agreement with the EU, while the US does not. Much of Audi’s production in North America will be exported back to Europe, and it would be subject to a 10% tariff if it was built in the US. By building them in Mexico, Audi can sell those vehicles in the US and the EU without a tariff.

    So ironically, Audi provides an example of how the lack of a free trade deal can cost American jobs.

  35. Pch101 says:


    You be sure to stock up on kneepads. You’re going to need a lot of them.

  36. S. Fields says:


    Trump’s supporters will be upset, but it won’t be because the Mexicans didn’t pay for the wall or only paid for a portion of it. They also won’t be upset that whatever is built will end up being fencing rather than some glorious big wall. They won’t give a sh*t about the details.

    No, Trump’s core supporters will be upset, and they’re going to be livid, because Build the Wall is just Trump shorthand for making the brown people go away. And no amount of wall and no mass deportation of only the “illegals” is going to reverse the demographic trends in this country back to a time when whites were predominant. They’re going to still have to choose not to hear the menu options in Spanish when they call customer service. They’re going to still find that jobs are hard to find even though they were told all the good jobs were being taken by “those people”. They going to still have bodegas pop up in their towns. And they’re going to be pissed.

    I really hope Trump succeeds in building a wall. I actually hope it’s Great Wall of China in scope and construction. Because, the clearer the demonstration, the better the slim chance these people will get wise to all the “If Only – Insert Simple Solution Here” BS they’re being fed about why their lives aren’t working out as they’d hope. All the real solutions to the challenges they face are difficult and complex and they’re not going to like what will be required. They’d much rather hear a wall (and what’s so hard about building a wall really?) is all it will take.

  37. Gustopher says:

    Vicente Fox’s twitter feed has been fun.

    TRUMP, when will you understand that I am not paying for that fucken wall. Be clear with US tax payers. They will pay for it.

    And then there is this:

    Sr Trump,the intelligence report is devastating.Losing election by more than 3M votes and in addition this.Are you a legitimate president?

    No response from der Pumpkinfuhrer. At least none yet. Instead he went on a rant about Russia being awesome and people who don’t want to coddle Russia being stupid.

    This leads to the question: is Trump beginning to show some self restraint in not responding, or is he simply unaware? (Sr. Fox does not seem to know how to address @realCheetoJesus appropriately on twitter)

  38. Since cost of living is cheaper in Mexico, and their currency is weaker, it makes sense to manufacture cars there. Ironically, by promising to increase the deficit(And then interest rates) Trump is making the Mexican Peso cheaper, then, more attractive for American Manufacturers.

  39. gVOR08 says:


    Whether or not Donald “planned” to build is not at issue. What I have significant skepticism around is that Congress will approve 8-12 billion to construct a, for the most part, symbolic wall.

    I’m not seeing why Congress would object to billions for the wall. It’ll just add to the deficit, and now that Republicans are in power that’s no longer a problem.

  40. michael reynolds says:


    Trump has done nothing but lie, and you’ve done nothing but rationalize.

    You rationalize away his racism; you rationalize away his misogyny; you rationalize his proven frauds, his ripping off of small businesses; you rationalize his vulgarity and crudeness; you rationalize his inability to control himself, his obsession with calling women fat at 3 AM; you rationalize his instant mid-air direction changes.

    Lie upon lie upon lie upon lie and all you’ve got to say is, “Well. . . someone else, some other time, also lied.”

    And were you content when those other people lied? Yes? No? Choose carefully. Was it OK for X, Y and Z to lie? Or is it only okay for Trump to lie? And lie and lie and lie and lie. He’s already far and away the biggest liar in presidential history and he hasn’t even been sworn in.

    At what point does your honesty return, Mike? At what point do you show some consistency and some character? At what point do you start to face reality? Is this how you’re going to spend the next four years excusing Trump’s failures, lies, thefts, crimes, stupidities, vulgarities, ignorance and quite frankly borderline treason? This is you now? Apologist for Putin’s buttboy? Apologist for this creep of a man?

  41. Ben Wolf says:

    1) Dollars don’t come from taxpayers. They come from Congress.

    2) It’s most likely the appearance of a Mexican payment would be created by playing hardball on trade, pushing their government into a swap line weighted toward American favor. It would be a smoke-and-mirrors gimmick but could be spun to look like victory.

  42. Rick Zhang says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    And that is all that Trump is good at – spin. Zero substance.

  43. C. Clavin says:

    Have you seen where a second-rate Reality TV actor called America’s greatest actress over-rated?

  44. CSK says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I also saw where Kellyanne Conway told Jake Tapper that the press shouldn’t quote what Trump says, they should listen to what’s in his heart.

    She’s angry that the press listens to what Trump says and then reports it accurately.

  45. C. Clavin says:


    they should listen to what’s in his heart.

    Of course it appears, based on his past performance, that the only thing in that heart are things that benefit him directly.

  46. C. Clavin says:

    Tomorrow, Tuesday, Obama will give his farewell address.
    On Wednesday Trump will give his first Press Conference.
    That’s a dichotomy that I cannot wait to see.

  47. J-Dub says:

    @C. Clavin: And answer questions about whether or not he has peed on Russian prostitutes.