Trump: Mexico will reimburse US for wall

President-elect Donald Trump speaks at his first news conference on Wednesday, January 11, 2017.

NEW YORK — “Mexico is going to pay for it,” has morphed into Mexico will reimburse the US for Donald Trump’s proposed wall with Mexico, either directly or indirectly.

Trump insisted that Mexico will “reimburse us” for costs of building a wall on the U.S. — Mexico border, and insisted that it will be a wall, “not a fence.”

Trump’s comments came during his first news conference as President-elect on Wednesday, and he maintained that he would be able to get Mexico to pay for the wall, eventually, despite flat rejections from Mexican government officials. But the President-elect said he’d rather build the wall and get payment from Mexico later.

“On the fence — it’s not a fence. It’s a wall,” Trump began. “We’re going to build a wall. I could wait about a year and a half until we finish our negotiations with Mexico, which we’ll start immediately after we get to office, but I don’t want to wait.”

Trump argued that the use of US tax dollars to pay for construction of the wall would be temporary and done in the interest of speed. He promised that he would eventually be able to get Mexico to “reimburse us” for it.

“I don’t feel like waiting a year or year and a half. We’re going to start building. Mexico in some form and there are many different forms, will reimburse us and they will reimburse us for the cost of the wall. That will happen. Whether it’s a tax or whether it’s a payment,” he said.

Trump continued, “Reports went out last week, ‘oh, Mexico is not going to pay for the wall because of a reimbursement.’ What’s the difference? I want to get the wall started. I don’t want to wait a year and a half until I make my deal with Mexico. We probably will have a deal sooner than that.”

Trump also said that Vice President-elect Mike Pence had started efforts to get clearances from Congress and agencies to begin construction of the wall, stressing, “I don’t want to wait.”

Wednesday was not Trump’s first mention of making Mexico reimburse the wall.

“Don’t worry about it. Remember, I said Mexico’s paying for the wall with the full understanding that the country of Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such a wall. We’re going to have the wall. Mexico is going to pay for the wall,” Trump said in his Gettysburg speech in October.

Despite Trump’s promises, Mexican leaders have steadfastly maintained that their country won’t provide funding for a border wall. And Trump’s options for coercing payment from Mexico are limited and disruptive — increasing border crossing fees and slashing aid would do little to cover the cost, and seizing remittance payments and imposing an import tax would have serious macroeconomic consequences.