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Mexico: Trump won't see a peso for his wall

February 25, 2017

Mexico has threatened retaliation if the US imposes a border tax to pay for Donald Trump's wall. The new president says his plans are "way, way, way ahead of schedule."

Grenze Mexiko USA Grenzzaun Mauer Zaun Menschen Symbolbild
Image: Getty Images/J. Moore

Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said Mexico could tax US products tit for tat should its northern neighbor impose a levy on Mexican imports to finance Donald Trump's pledged "great" border wall.

"Without a doubt, we have that possibility," Videgaray said in a radio interview late Friday. "And what we cannot do is remain with our arms crossed."

Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said Mexico could bear any withdrawal of security funding by the United States. And officials have called absurd the notion that the US might deport non-Mexican irregular immigrants to Mexico. In January, President Enrique Pena Nieto canceled a trip to Washington, DC, as Trump continued to insist that Mexico would pay for his wall.

Politicians in both countries worry that Trump's novice administration could jeopardize longstanding binational cultural and economic ties through its plans for a "military" anti-migrant operation. Vicente Fox, Mexico's president from 2000 to 2006, has gone toe to toe with Trump on Twitter over the planned wall.

The US intends to issue a solicitation by March 6 "for the design and build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico," the Department of Homeland Security announced Friday on FedBizOpps.org. The website connects private contractors with federal funding. The US government asked any potential vendors to submit concept papers of their prototypes by March 10.

Officials estimate that the wall would cost $6.5 million per mile (6.15 million euros per 1.6 kilometer) for a pedestrian barrier. The United States currently has 354 miles of pedestrian fencing and 300 miles of vehicle barriers, much of it built during President George W. Bush's second term.

Trump made anti-immigrant sentiment the centerpiece of his 2016 presidential campaign.

'Are you Muslim?'

A new wave of activism has begun in response to the administration's perceived targeting of immigrants. Jodie Foster, Michael J. Fox and Keegan-Michael Key and other stars rallied for migrant equality in Beverly Hills, California, late Friday. The United Talent Agency planned the nearly two-hour United Voices rally in lieu of holding its annual Oscars party.

Restrictions on travelers from several Muslim-majority nations have also created problems at the US's air borders, and some have accused customs agents of mission creep. Media report that border enforcers held Muhammad Ali Jr., a son of the boxer and civil rights icon who died in 2016, for questioning upon his return from vacationing in Jamaica earlier in February - because of his Arabic-sounding name. According to Ali's lawyer, agents held him for nearly two hours and repeatedly asked: "Where did you get your name from?" and "Are you Muslim?"

The Ali family, nee Clay, date back to pre-republican times on what is now US territory. The boxer's ancestors were brought to the British colonies as slaves.

mkg/tj (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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