President Barack Obama wasted no time Friday delivering another implicit rebuke of Donald Trump on Mexico and immigration, hours after the Republican nominee officially claimed the party mantle to take on presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in November.
“Let me start by saying something that is too often overlooked, but bears repeating — especially given some of the heated rhetoric that we sometimes hear. The United States values tremendously our enduring partnership with Mexico and our extraordinary ties of family and friendship with the Mexican people,” Obama said at the start of a joint press conference with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Noting that Mexico is the United States’ third-largest trading partner, Obama remarked upon the “millions of tourists, businesspeople, and friends, family” who “cross the border legally” every year.
Donald Trump says he will make Mexico pay for wall:
“On a whole host of issues, from our shared security, to climate change, Mexico is a critical partner, and is critically important to our own well-being,” Obama said. “We are not just strategic and economic partners. We are also neighbors, and we’re friends, and we’re family — including millions of Americans that are tied to Mexico by culture and by language. And that’s why as president, I worked to deepen the partnership between our nations.”
Returning to the significance of the countries’ cooperation later in the briefing, Obama suggested that the relationship would endure regardless of who leads either nation.
On immigration, Obama noted that while “the issue of the border” “obviously always gets a lot of attention,” more of the recent migration flows have come not from Mexico, but Central America. Trump on Thursday night proclaimed that the U.S. will “build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities.”
“And if it were not for the hard work of Mexico in trying to secure its border to the south and to cooperate with us, we would have a much more significant problem. And that is not always easy,” Obama said. “That requires resources and policy decisions made by the Mexican government, but the cooperation on that front has been absolutely critical in making sure that we deal with these issues in a serious way and in a humane way. And we continue to make progress on that front.”
Obama also spoke about the need to cooperate to combat drug trafficking, a problem Trump vowed to fix in his acceptance speech Thursday by building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“This is a problem of both of our countries,” Obama said. “And as a consequence of the work that we’ve done together, we have seen progress in some areas, both in the flow of drugs north, but also in the flow of guns and illicit financing south.”
The U.S. will not be able to solve the problem alone, Obama said, “and Mexico is going to need United States to cooperate in order to rid itself of the violence and corruption that results from the drug trade.
“And I want everybody to be clear, Mexico has been a consistent, strong partner with us on these issues,” Obama reiterated. “And if they had not been, we would have had much bigger problems on our borders, and the benefit of a cooperative Mexico — and by the way, a Mexico that has a healthy economy, and Mexico that can help us build stability and security in Central America, that’s going to do a lot more to solve any migration crisis or drug trafficking problem than a wall. And it’ll be much more reflective of the kind of relationship that we should have with our neighbors.” source
Donald Trump says that here are several ways to compel Mexico to pay for the wall including the following:
- 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 the funds needed 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.
- Trade tariffs, or enforcement of existing trade rules: There is no doubt that Mexico is engaging in unfair subsidy behavior that has eliminated thousands of U.S. jobs, and which we are obligated to respond to; the impact of any tariffs on the price imports will be more than offset by the economic and income gains of increased production in the United States, in addition to revenue from any tariffs themselves. Mexico needs access to our markets much more than the reverse, so we have all the leverage and will win the negotiation. By definition, if you have a large trade deficit with a nation, it means they are selling far more to you than the reverse – thus they, not you, stand to lose from enforcing trade rules through tariffs (as has been done to save many U.S. industries in the past).
- Cancelling visas: Immigration is a privilege, not a right. Mexico is totally dependent on the United States as a release valve for its own poverty – our approvals of hundreds of thousands of visas to their nationals every year is one of our greatest leverage points. We also have leverage through business and tourist visas for important people in the Mexican economy. Keep in mind, the United States has already taken in 4X more migrants than any other country on planet earth, producing lower wages and higher unemployment for our own citizens and recent migrants.
- Visa fees: 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. The border-crossing card is also one of the greatest sources of illegal immigration into the United States, via overstays. Mexico is also the single largest recipient of U.S. green cards, which confer a path to U.S. citizenship. Again, we have the leverage so Mexico will back down. source
Conclusion: Mexico has taken advantage of us in another way as well: gangs, drug traffickers and cartels have freely exploited our open borders and committed vast numbers of crimes inside the United States. The United States has borne the extraordinary daily cost of this criminal activity, including the cost of trials and incarcerations. Not to mention the even greater human cost. We have the moral high ground here, and all the leverage.
It is time we use it in order to Make America Great Again.