Trump's Plan to Make Mexico Pay for Border Wall With Toll Booths Was Pitched Years Ago

President Donald Trump renewed his vow to make Mexico pay for the construction of his U.S.-Mexico border wall on Tuesday night.

This time, however, the president came prepared with a plan, suggesting that the U.S. could force Mexico to pay for the wall with toll booths along the border.

"Mexico is paying for the wall, just so you understand," Trump told supporters at his rally in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

"They don't say that, they never say it, but we're going to charge a small fee at the border," he said.

Noting that the U.S.-Mexico border is the busiest boundary for crossings in the world, with an estimated 350 million regular crossings taking place annually before the coronavirus pandemic, Trump said "all the money that we spent on the wall" will be "coming back."

While the pitch appeared to take many social media users by surprise, the idea of funding a border wall with charges from toll booths was put forward before Trump even took office.

In December 2016, shortly after Trump's election victory, then-House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul called for a "security toll" he suggested could be used to fund the wall's construction.

In an opinion piece for Fox News, McCaul, a representative for Texas's 10th congressional district, suggested that Mexicans should not be the only ones paying for the border wall.

Visitors to the U.S. from Latin American countries, he suggested, should also pay the fee, given the significant share of migrants and asylum seekers who cross into the U.S. from the region.

"Other countries in Latin America have contributed to the crisis—and failed to rein in the chaos—so they should also help pay for these fixes, too," McCaul, who is the chairman emeritus of the House Committee on Homeland Security and the Republican leader on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote at the time.

"In turn, we will offer to work with them to help their governments figure out how to secure their own borders and keep threats from spilling over into neighboring countries like our own," he said.

In addition to appearing to breathe new life into McCaul's idea on Tuesday, Trump also floated the possibility of doing "something with remittance," referring to wages made through work in the U.S. that are sent back to other countries.

Currently, U.S. taxpayers are expected to foot the bill for the construction of the border wall project, which has so far seen more than 300 miles constructed, much of that being erected in place of pre-existing barriers.

The exact details and rollout of the charges Trump suggested would be coming into effect are still unclear.

Newsweek contacted the Trump campaign and the White House for more information. The White House did not provide an on-the-record response.

Newsweek has also contacted McCaul's office for comment.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump renewed his vow to make Mexico pay for the construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall during a campaign rally at Smith Reynolds Airport on September 8, 2020 in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Sean Rayford/Getty