President Obama on Tuesday bluntly dismissed Donald Trump’s proposal to force Mexico to pay for a border wall as “half-baked” and counterproductive and said the Republican frontrunner’s “wackier” foreign policy ideas were hurting the United States abroad.
In a memo obtained by the Washington Post, Trump said he would threaten to cut off money transfers from workers inside the United States — including U.S. citizens — to relatives in Mexico unless that country makes a one-time payment of $5 billion to $10 billion to pay for the construction of a 1,000-mile border fence.
Obama, speaking to reporters in the White House briefing room, said that doing so could cause “enormous” damage to Mexico’s economy, which depends on those transfers, usually known as remittances. The proposal is also “impractical,” he said.
“The notion that we’re going to track every Western Union bit of money that’s being sent to Mexico — you know, good luck with that,” Obama said derisively. “Then we’ve got the issue of the implications for the Mexican economy, which, in turn, if it’s collapsing, actually sends more immigrants north because they can’t find jobs back in Mexico.”
Trump’s plan “is just one more example of something that is not thought through and is primarily put forward for political consumption,” Obama said.
World leaders “don’t expect half-baked notions coming out of the White House. We can’t afford that,” the president said. “I am getting questions constantly from foreign leaders about some of the wackier suggestions that are being made.”
Obama said he was hearing worries over proposals from Trump as well as his nearest rival for the GOP nomination, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Cruz’s ideas “in some ways are just as draconian when it comes to immigration, for example,” Obama said.