Donald Trump’s wall is imperfect in every way

Giselle Suazo

Donald Trump recently revealed how he plans to force Mexico to pay for a new Berlin Wall separating our two nations through a memo sent to The Washington Post. But for a man who brags endlessly about his business acuity, he sure doesn’t understand how capital markets work or how this plan will backfire on Mexico and the U.S. This should serve as a reminder that Trump is better off issuing ultimatums than crafting policy or being president.

The memo illustrates a number of options that Trump believes will lead Mexico to fork over 5 to 10 billion dollars for the wall he constantly raves about. Most notably, he plans to block remittances — money transfers wired through financial institutions — sent to Mexico from people currently living in the United States.

Mexico receives $24.4 billion in remittances from immigrants in the U.S., accounting for about 2 percent of Mexico’s gross domestic product. Blocking this money from entering Mexico could definitely hurt its economy and in turn discourage immigration into the United States.

In order to carry out the withholding of remittances, Trump plans to rewrite provisions of the Patriot Act. Immigrants would have to start proving they are living in the U.S. legally before being able to send money to Mexico and other countries in Latin America. But experts say carrying out this part of the plan could be deemed unconstitutional. Managing director of Financial Access Initiative at NYU, Timothy Ogden, believes Trump’s plan won’t pass a court review.

“It should be filed under ludicrous pipedreams,” Ogden said.
While discouraging immigration is definitely a part of Trump’s agenda, he does not understand that a country that is built on immigration needs it to continue being successful. Immigrants have shown that they increase productivity, create more small businesses than other minorities, and fuel innovation

Even if Trump did have financial institutions cease all wire transfers, the money wouldn’t stop; it would just be driven underground. It would end up in the hands of money launderers, such as drug cartels and other criminals, creating an underground black market. The people benefiting from the wall would be the very people Trump wanted the wall to be built against. Not to mention that immigrants with relatives or friends that are U.S. citizens could use them to make wire transfers.

The U.S. and Mexico share more than a border; they share a strong trade relationship that Trump is clearly overlooking. His plans would also increase the fees on visas, cancel visas and increase tariffs on Mexican goods. Just so we’re clear, Trump is OK with risking a trade war with our neighbor in order to get his precious wall. He risks roughly 6 million U.S. jobs that are sustained by trade with Mexico that totals $1 billion per day. 

Donald Trump may be a lot of things – millionaire, businessman, bully, etc. – but a politician isn’t one of them. His plan to separate two nations that rely on one another is crumbling and rightfully so as it would cause irreparable harm to a vital relationship. 

Suazo is an international relations and global studies junior from Honduras. Follow her on Twitter @giselle_suazo.