Donald Trump, Republicans now plan to charge taxpayers for the Mexico wall but plan to reclaim the money later

Donald Trump brings back the wall pledge, with one big change

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published January 6, 2017 12:45PM (EST)

 (AP/Evan Vucci/Reuters/Jose Luis Gonzalez/Photo montage by Salon)
(AP/Evan Vucci/Reuters/Jose Luis Gonzalez/Photo montage by Salon)

President-elect Donald Trump is rumored to be thinking of using an obscure 2006 law in order to begin financing the U.S.-Mexico border wall as early as April to the excitement of many Republican Party players.

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 was passed with bipartisan support — including that of then-senator Barack Obama and Sen. Chuck Schumer — with the goal of building 700 miles of "reinforced fencing" as well as a "virtual fence" containing an enhanced surveillance system. Because it was never completed, both Trump and congressional Republicans believe that they can use the law to construct a full border wall, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.

And yes, Americans would have to pay for it.

In order to begin its construction by April and avoid a government shutdown, Congress would have to cite the legislation to start funding the wall through the appropriations process, the Post reported. Democrats could easily filibuster or otherwise stymie a new border wall bill, but because blocking spending legislation risks a government shutdown, it would be much more difficult for them to halt the erection of Trump's wall if he approaches it through this method.

Although no official estimates exist for how much such a border wall would cost, Trump estimated it would be $12 billion, while The Washington Post calculated it to be closer to $25 billion.

The border wall plan comes on top of the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated would cost up to $350 billion through 2017.

Not surprisingly, Trump has taken to Twitter to insist that he would still get Mexico to pay for the wall, although he notably phrased this as America being "paid back" by Mexico.

Former Mexican president Vincente Fox begged to differ.

Trump initially promised that Mexico would pay for the wall, but by October was backing off this charge. By then he was saying that Mexico would reimburse the U.S. No plan has yet been announced regarding how President-elect Trump would go about forcing Mexico to furnish the funds for a border wall.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Build The Wall Donald Trump Mexican Wall Mexico U.s.-mexico Border