Conservative pundit Ann Coulter tweets a daily “Border Wall Construction Update.” It reads the same every time: “Miles completed yesterday — Zero. Miles completed since inauguration — Zero.”
While Congress dithers over yet another amnesty for illegal aliens, President Donald Trump’s promised border wall is stuck in the mud.
A year after Trump moved into the White House, eight wall prototypes are on display south of San Diego. But Elaine Duke, deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, says people shouldn’t get too excited.
“It won’t necessarily be one of the eight. What comes out may be totally different,” Duke told a Border Security Expo last month.
Duke proceeded to list several legal and logistical impediments to construction. “We’re concerned about private property rights,” she said, noting that federal land acquisition is “complicated.”
Twenty-eight miles of replacement wall near San Diego is DHS’ top priority, followed by an “action plan” for Texas’ largely wall-less Rio Grande Valley. The plan pivots on land ownership issues.
At this rate, 2020 will be here and Trump will be running for re-election without any new barriers built.
If a dysfunctional Congress and a plodding Homeland Security bureaucracy persist in icing the signature pledge of his 2016 campaign, the president must turn up the heat. That takes money – other people’s money.
Open-borders groups dismiss Trump’s call to make Mexico pay for the wall. “There is no way Mexico is going to pay,” flatly declares Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
But taxing or imposing fees on U.S. funds sent privately to Mexico and other countries makes dollars, and sense.
Foreign remittances represent a significant, but often overlooked, cost of mass immigration. According to the World Bank, $133.5 billion in remittances flowed out of the U.S. in 2015. In 2016, remittances to Mexico (mostly from the U.S.) hit a record $27 billion, exceeding that country’s revenues from oil exports. An estimated 83 percent of Mexicans who enter the U.S. illegally send money home.
Tapping remittances is neither a new nor exotic idea. Oklahoma assesses a 1 percent fee on all personal wire transfers of cash to accounts outside the state. Why not charge for funds leaving America?
In less than 10 years, a 2 percent remittance surcharge would raise the $25 billion Trump wants for a border security trust fund, including a 2,000-mile wall.
Taxing foreign remittances should be a bipartisan no-brainer. Retaining pennies on the dollars leaving the country generates cash for border security while letting foreign governments know that Uncle Sam won’t be played for a sucker.
As for those daily jabs from Coulter, Trump recently tweeted back: “The wall will be paid for, directly or indirectly, or through longer term reimbursement, by Mexico.”