White House Considers Restricting Remittances to Mexico to Stop Illegal Migration

April 10, 2019 Updated: April 10, 2019

The White House is considering a plan to curb payments sent to Mexico and Central American countries in order to stem a surge of illegal aliens pouring into the United States.

A senior administration official told reporters on April 10 the plan would restrict remittances from the United States in order to discourage migrants.

The move is part of a broader plan targeting migrants who cross the border illegally to claim asylum. The vast majority of asylum claims are rejected, but loopholes in the immigration laws result in many of the migrants being released into the interior with work permits, as they await adjudication of their claims. Many never show up to be deported and continue working in the United States and sending money to relatives in their home countries.

According to the World Bank, $33.7 billion in remittances was sent to Mexico in 2018, an increase of 21 percent from 2016. The outflow to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras grew to $19.7 billion in 2018, a 25 percent increase from 2016. A significant portion of the payments goes to human trafficking cartels that charge at least $5,000 per person to help the migrants travel and enter into the United States.

In an April 9 interview with Breitbart, Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach floated a plan to threaten to end remittances to Mexico entirely. The threat can be used to force Mexico to enact a ban on Central Americans traveling through the country to the United States. Mexico already has a robust asylum system and could demand that migrants seek asylum in the first country they arrive in.

“The threat I propose is one that actually helps us if we follow through on it. That is the threat of ending remittances from the majority of people in the United States from Mexico who are here illegally,” Kobach told Breitbart.

“That is a threat that we could carry through on that actually helps our economy because the money is not sent home, it stays in circulation in the U.S. economy and helps rev up our economy. It’s actually a good thing if we follow through,” he said.

“They don’t want to risk losing that massive flow of foreign capital. In most years, it’s their second biggest source of foreign capital,” he added.

Kobach is one of several people rumored to be under consideration to replace Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who resigned from her post on April 7. Nielsen’s resignation is part of a reshuffling at the top of the immigration agencies as President Donald Trump shifts toward a more aggressive approach to immigration enforcement.

Two days after Nielsen announced her departure, a senior administration official said others at DHS weren’t doing enough to enact Trump’s immigration agenda.

DHS acting Deputy Secretary Claire Grady offered her resignation to Trump, effective April 10, after a 28-year career at the departments of Defense and Homeland Security. The U.S. Secret Service said on April 8 that its chief, Randolph “Tex” Alles, would depart his job next month. Days earlier, Trump withdrew the nomination of Ronald Vitiello to serve as director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Several other DHS officials could be forced out soon, said an official familiar with the matter. Among them were the department’s general counsel, John Mitnick, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Francis Cissna, the source said.

Trump denied that he was overhauling DHS and said his administration was fighting “bad laws” on immigration and a court system that “never ever rules for us.”

“Nobody ever said I was cleaning house,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

DHS said it arrested or denied entry to more than 103,000 people along the border last month, more than double the March 2018 figure. Immigration authorities have released more than 120,000 migrants traveling as families into the interior so far this year.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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