Customarily, you'd have to work harder than El Chapo's Narc-Anon sponsor to find common ground between me and the Golfer-in-Chief on any issue, but leave it to The Candidate with the Cockatoo Do to move that Sisyphean boulder up the slope and on to level ground. For all of you who've been wondering like me (and most other Americans, as well as many Mexicans) how The Orange Man plans to get Mexico to pay for The Great Wall along the Rio, he's made it clear: American financial institutions will carry his heavy water.
Under the proposal detailed on Trump’s campaign website, the Republican would rely on a section of the Patriot Act to effectively force banks and money transfer companies to determine whether a person trying to send money abroad is a legal resident of the U.S.
That section of the law was written to crack down on terrorist financing and requires banks and other financial institutions to verify the identities of people opening accounts and doing business with them.
Trump has vowed on his first day in office, he would expand that requirement to include wire transfers and require that no foreign person living in the U.S. can send money outside the country without first proving their legal status.
The businessman predicts that Mexico will agree to pay for a border wall within a matter of days to keep money flowing over the border.
The Trump campaign has also floated increasing visa fees, cancelling visas, and establishing trade tariffs against Mexico as ways to pay for a border wall, but cutting off remittances is the centerpiece of his plan.
Usually, the words "centerpiece" and "Trump" are used to refer to the living blonde-furred creature he wears on his cranium, the one that sometimes rears back on its hind legs and bays at the moon, Megan Kelly, or any other thing or person who displeases the the former lead singer for Devo. In this case, it refers to banks and other financial institutions, as well as other money transmitters like Western Union, doing what all federal government agencies otherwise responsible for keeping the word "legal" in "legal immigration" have failed to do since the 1930s: ferret out who's here legally and who is here on the down-low.
Naturally, banks are doing back-flips in anticipation of the expense and liability of that job, not to mention the back-breaking prospect of adding a ton or two to the already crushing compliance burden it will entail.
But banks and other financial companies say they do not want to get involved on the front lines in a contentious immigration battle, arguing there are questions about how effectively such a policy could be implemented.
“It should not be for the banking system to be the police or the immigration task force,” said one banking lobbyist. “I don’t think it should be left to banks to report that someone has come in to remit money to whatever country, and it may or may not be legal. That’s not our role.”
Banks contend that they do not have a method of establishing the legal status of a person in the U.S. A person can open an account or send money abroad simply by showing an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, which is given out by the government to people lacking a Social Security number, including people who are in the U.S. illegally.
The banking lobbyist said Trump’s proposal is not yet being taken seriously by the industry because it is still several steps away from even beginning to look like a reality.
I assume that same lobbyist a year ago scoffed at the notion that a bloviating clown prince like The Donald could ever beat a well-funded, well-connected, "heavyweight" like The Jebster for the Republican Party's presidential nomination. Underestimating this carnival barker is a common blind spot this election season. He's like a nightmare from which you can't wake up no matter how loudly you scream. Let's take him seriously, no matter how many knots that ties in your nether regions, and make sure that he understands that any banker, even those who live in Colorado and consume mass quantities of EdiPure Raspberry Jellies, who was thinking of holding their nose and voting for him are going to vote for the Wicked Witch of the Chappaqua, or otherwise "Go Green," "Libertarian," or even "Liberace," unless he drops this harebrained scheme to build The Great wall on the backs of America's banks. In fact, bankers could get some assistance in making this point from their MSB brethren, as The Change We Were Waiting For recently noted.
“The notion that we are going to track every Western Union bit of money that is being sent to Mexico, good luck with that,” Obama told reporters.
I amaze myself when I say this, but "Right On, Mr. President."
As the linked article points out, there are so many ways to circumvent the money transmission barrier that Trump proposes that banks, despite the money and labor it would cost them, would be about as effective in stopping money flowing from Mexican illegal immigrants in the U.S back home to Mexico as the US Border Patrol is at keeping out undocumented immigrants in the first place. In other words, it wouldn't work.
Not that reality ever stopped a megalomaniac.