During Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency, he promised he would build a “beautiful” wall on the border between the United States and Mexico and that Mexico would pay for it. It was one of his guaranteed applause lines. He never said how he was going to get Mexico to pay for it, or why they would agree to do so, but that didn’t seem to matter. He was going to build it and they were going to pay for it.
Now that he is president, things are a little trickier, since now he has to build the wall – and he has to get Mexico to pay for it. One of his first equivocations was that we would pay for it initially, but he would get Mexico to repay us later. Once again, he didn’t say how he was going to get Mexico to repay us, but that was just details – or something.
Their idea is to impose a 2 percent tax on all money that Mexican, and other, immigrants send back home from the United States. Of course, this tax raises all kinds of questions. It’s not a tax on Mexico. It’s a tax on Mexicans – and all other immigrants, too. How taxing immigrants from Denmark on money they send to Copenhagen constitutes getting Mexico to pay for President Trump’s border wall is a little unclear, but nothing is ever easy in Congress.
In any case, regardless of the “Denmark problem”, the idea is appalling. In addition to talking about a beautiful wall on the border with Mexico, one of Donald Trump’s biggest themes in his campaign was that he was going to “Make America Great Again.”
I have news for Representatives Rogers, Barletta, et al: Taxing little people on money they want to send to relatives overseas who need help is not something a great nation does. It’s a little idea. It’s mean-spirited. It’s like what the People’s Republic of China did when they took dissidents, or anybody, from their home and shot them – and then charged the family for the bullet. The leaders of China might have thought they were big and powerful – and great – when they did that, but they weren’t. They were little and scared and were ruling through fear.
That is what this tax puts me in the mind of. It is the kind of thing small countries do. Maybe not small in size, but small in spirit. Small in ideas – and ideals. Small in the pride they have in themselves. Small in what makes a country great.
This is not the kind of thing the United States does. At least not the United States that won the Second World War, that won the Cold War, and that was, and should still be, a shining city upon a hill, an example for the world of what a country can and should be.