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Experts Baffled by Trump 'Redemption Money' Wall Claim

February 13, 2020 (1 min read)

Daniel Dale, CNN, Feb. 12, 2020

"President Donald Trump, ever the reality television star, had been hinting that a big reveal was coming.

Trump ran for the presidency on a signature promise to make Mexico pay for a giant wall on its own border. Mexico has not paid. But Trump insisted at campaign rallies in January that, at some point in the future, people would learn how Mexico has indeed been paying.

At a rally in New Hampshire on Monday, he offered something resembling an explanation.

"You do know who's paying for the wall, don't you? Redemption. From illegal aliens that are coming in," he said. "The redemption money is paying for the wall."

Facts First: Experts on immigration policy told CNN they had no idea what the term "redemption money" means. Trump is paying for the wall with a combination of US taxpayer money Congress has allocated to the project and funding he is diverting from the military.

"I don't know what the President means by redemptions. I have never heard the word used in this context before," said Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law practice at Cornell University. "In any event, the President is wrong. Money appropriated by Congress and money diverted from the Department of Defense is paying for construction of the wall, not immigrants."

Four Migration Policy Institute researchers focused on the United States have also never "heard of the use of the term 'redemption' in the immigration context," said Michelle Mittelstadt, the think tank's communications director.

... Trump has funded wall construction by taking billions from military coffers to augment billions appropriated by Congress.

In January, CNN and other media outlets reported that Trump was considering diverting another $7.2 billion from the military -- $3.7 billion from military construction projects and $3.5 billion from counterdrug programs."