In a cross-border Twitter war, former Mexican President Vicente Fox Quesada vowed his country will not pay for a wall as Republicans in Congress signal they’re willing to underwrite President-elect Donald Trump’s signature project to get it off the ground.
“Trump may ask whoever he wants, but still neither myself nor Mexico are going to pay for his racist monument,” tweeted Fox, who was president of Mexico from 2000 to 2006. “Another promise he can’t keep.”
He kept up the attack yesterday asking Trump, “When will you understand that I am not paying for that (expletive) wall. Be clear with US tax payers. They will pay for it.”
Trump fired back, saying he’d force Mexico to fund the wall.
“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 wrote on Twitter.
Former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who succeeded Fox and served until 2012, also jumped into the fray, saying the pressure Trump has leveled against auto companies looking to move operations south of the border will backfire and push more immigration into the U.S.
“The more jobs you destroy in Mexico, the more immigrants the American people will have. Think a little!” Calderon wrote on Twitter.
The war over the wall comes as members of the GOP said late this week they are willing to back the border wall and figure out repayment after.
“I’m not sure anyone believed the government of Mexico was going to write a giant check to the federal registry, but there are other ways to ensure Mexico does pay for the border buildout,” said Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana, chairman of the Republican Policy Committee.
Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said Trump’s pledge has not changed “but Congress is examining ways to have the wall paid for through their auspices and Mr. Trump is making the point that he will have Mexico pay it back.”
Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson also told the Herald this week he’s willing to send some of his inmates to the border to help with the construction, saying: “We need to turn this country around and put law and order back in place.”
Trump has estimated that a wall would cost up to $12 billion to build. It could be more than triple that, $38 billion, according to an analysis published by MIT Technology Review.
Boston College immigration expert Westy Egmont said Mexico’s economy has been growing quickly and increasing tariffs or taxing money sent to Mexico could end up hurting the U.S.
“It makes no sense for Mexico to do anything that’s going to be an expense to its economy,” Egmont said. “It is clearly a beneficial relationship for us to work well with Mexico, and it would certainly be detrimental in the long term if we cut off such a significant trade partner.”
During the campaign, Trump suggested that if Mexico did not agree to pay for the wall, the U.S. might impose a fee on financial remittances sent home by Mexicans working in the U.S. illegally. Such action would surely be opposed by the financial services industry.
The president-elect has also suggested the U.S. could try to pressure Mexico by reducing or slowing the process through which Mexicans get travel cards and visitors’ visas.
Republicans said one scenario would be to link new border funds to a must-pass bill to keep the government running past April 28. Such a legislative maneuver would force Democrats, who mostly oppose border funding absent broader immigration law changes, to join the vote or run the risk of a government shutdown.
Herald wire services contributed to this report.
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