WASHINGTON, DC — Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has repeatedly criticized U.S. President Donald Trump for not forcing Mexico to pay for the multi-billion-dollar wall along America’s southern border after his party argued against the proposal, noting that the measure is xenophobic and would strain the relationship between the two countries.
President Trump “broke his campaign promise and said American taxpayers should foot the bill even though he promised Mexico would pay for the wall,” Leahy declared during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Tuesday focused on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget.
Leahy is the top Democrat on the Senate panel. On several occasions, the senator has suggested that Mexico should indeed pay for the very same wall that his party ardently opposes.
Referring to the border wall, Leahy proclaimed in January:
They [the Trump administration] can pay for it out of their [own budget], if they think it’s so important. Or they could do my other suggestion. He’s pledged, given his word, that Mexico will pay for it because he’s very good at the art of the deal and so on. Let’s just open up a special account, as Mexico pays in for the Trump wall, they can build it.
Sen. Leahy also suggested he would support the construction of the barrier if Mexico pays for it.
“I know President Trump would never lie about something,” Leahy said sarcastically, referring to the president’s promise. “So let’s see how much money they send up and then we can decide what kind of a wall.”
When presidential candidate Trump proposed that Mexico should pay for a wall to combat illegal cross-border activity along the U.S.-Mexico international boundary, including the flow of illegal migrants and deadly drugs like heroin onto U.S. soil, sitting President Barack Obama and other leading Democrats blasted the notion.
Obama argued that the proposal would dramatically hurt the diplomatic and economic ties between the United States and Mexico, The Hill reported.
Democratic lawmakers suggested that making Mexico pay for the wall would amount to xenophobia.
Former Rep. Xavier Becerra (CA), then-chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, argued in 2016 that Trump’s proposal exposed the Republican party’s “real and palpable … hostility toward American families with immigrant roots.”
Now, top Democrat Sen. Leahy is embracing the idea of forcing the Mexican government to fund the estimated $18 billion wall, taking a page from the editorial pages of the Washington Post and other liberal publications.