Fact check: Trump is still falsely claiming that Mexico is paying for his border wall

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Running for reelection four years later, the President is now declaring at his rallies that Mexico is indeed paying for the wall.

“And by the way, Mexico is paying,” Trump said at a rally in Sanford, Florida, on Monday. “They hate to say it: Mexico is paying for it.”
“And Mexico is paying for the wall, by the way. You know that. I’ve been saying it. They hate to hear that. But they’re paying,” Trump said at a rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday.

“And as I said, Mexico is paying for the wall,” he added at a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on Wednesday.

Facts First: This is a lie. Mexico hasn’t contributed any money toward the construction of the border wall. The wall is being funded by the US government.

“It is, so far, all American taxpayers’ money,” said Tony Payan, director of the Center for the United States and Mexico at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

“As far as I know, there is no basis for President Trump’s comments that Mexico will pay for the wall, period,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, professor of immigration practice at Cornell Law School. “They have not in the past, and I have not seen anything to indicate a change in the future.”

Trump has been making this claim since earlier in his term. It has never been true.
The wall has been funded in part with US federal money appropriated by Congress and in part with US federal money Trump has unilaterally — and controversially — diverted to the project from other programs. According to an official update emailed to CNN in September by US Customs and Border Protection, Trump is using $6.3 billion diverted from counter-narcotics funding, $3.6 billion diverted from military construction funding, just over $600 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund and just over $5 billion in directly appropriated funds. (There are ongoing legal challenges about Trump’s use of funds that were not directly appropriated.)

As of September 18, 331 miles of wall had been built under Trump, according to the official update. Of those, nine miles had been built where no primary barriers existed before; 295 miles had been built in place of old barriers the government says were “dilapidated and/or outdated”; 27 miles were new “secondary wall” to reinforce primary barriers.

The Mexican government has helped the Trump administration on immigration in other significant ways. For example, it has deployed thousands of federal forces to intercept migrants before they reach the US. Some analysts have described this effort as a de facto wall.

Still, Trump’s wall is a physical project that costs billions of dollars. And that money is coming from Americans.

Varying explanations

Trump has sometimes made additional false claims about how the wall is being funded.

In February, Trump claimed that “redemption money” from undocumented immigrants was paying for the project. Experts on immigration policy said that “redemption money” is not even a real term — and they said Trump was still wrong even if he meant remittance money, the payments immigrants send back to their countries of origin; Trump never implemented his 2016 campaign proposal to tax remittances to fund the wall.

Moments after he claimed at the Monday rally that Mexico is paying for the wall, Trump said, “We’re putting a border tax on for cars and trucks that go across. It’ll much more than pay for our wall. Starting soon.” He said the same at the Tuesday rally: “You know, we’re putting a charge on where the cars go through. And it’ll more than pay for the wall.”

He made similar comments in August — but the experts we contacted on Tuesday said they still did not know what Trump was talking about.

“I haven’t heard any concrete proposals for a border tax to pay for the wall,” Andrew Selee, the president of the Migration Policy Institute think tank, said in an email. “It may just be the kind of campaign rhetoric that always springs up at election time, or maybe the President has a new proposal for a border tax in mind, but this doesn’t appear to have been a policy proposal from the White House or any agency that I know of.”

The White House declined to comment Tuesday on our request to explain how Mexico is paying for the wall or to provide any specifics about the supposed “border tax.” The Trump campaign did not respond to our request for comment.

CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez contributed to this article.

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