President Donald Trump reiterated this week that he does plan to make Mexico pay for the southern border wall, and to do that he plans to enact a toll on vehicles entering the U.S. from Mexico.
President Trump: “We built the wall under budget, ahead of schedule… And Mexico is paying for the wall.” pic.twitter.com/XtmZThsWep
— The Hill (@thehill) August 19, 2020
“They’re going to pay at the border, at the gate, cars going through, we’re going to do a toll — or we may do a toll,” Trump said during an event in Yuma, Ariz., where he was visiting new fencing that was recently installed along the U.S.–Mexico border.
Asked whether he still wants Mexico to foot the bill, Trump said: “Mexico is paying for the wall, yeah.”
Hundreds of miles of new border fencing have been put up since Trump first took office, according to the Trump administration.
Since March, the administration has completed 150 miles of border fence at various parts of the border, though other reports suggest progress has been much slower than that.
Even so, Trump said on Tuesday that his administration would set up an additional 300 miles of fencing in a matter of weeks.
The administration has funding for nearly 660 miles of fencing—most of which will replace old barriers that need to be repaired or are easy to climb over.
“Those are anti-climb plates at the top,” Trump said during a private walk-through of an 18-foot-tall fence in Yuma, according to the Washington Examiner.
“You see these guys climbing up with drugs on their back … They say … ‘Let’s take a pass on that.’”
The border wall that has been installed as decreased the number of illegal crossings, Trump claimed.
At the beginning of the year, that was true. But illegal crossings have increased 237% since April, according to Customs and Border Protection reports.
In July, Border Patrol agents arrested nearly 39,000 illegal immigrants.
Some immigration experts blame that spike on the coronavirus pandemic, since the Centers for Disease Control and prevention urged border officials not to detain immigrants during the shutdown.
In response, border patrol officers began expelling illegal immigrants as soon as they arrived rather than allowing them to try and claim asylum.
But because of the shutdown and the general lack of resources, border officials found it difficult to keep up with the influx of border crossings.
The massive caravans coming up from Central America, however, have stopped coming as frequently. Trump credited his agreement with Mexico and other negotiations he’s made with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
“The caravans don’t come up any more,” he said.
“We were paying hundreds of millions of dollars [to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador],” he continued. “When we caught a murderer and we wanted to bring them back to one of those countries they wouldn’t take them. [Because of that,] we stopped paying them.”
Trump also said the end of the catch-and-release policy, which allowed illegal immigrants to remain in the country while they waited for their asylum case to be heard, has helped reduce illegal immigration.
“More important than these numbers is that we ended catch and release,” Trump said. “They say, ‘Come back in four years.'”