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Donald Trump’s new plan to pay for a Mexican border wall would upend the lives of thousands of Mexicans and destroy U.S.-Mexico relations.

Scott Olson/Getty

For most of his campaign, Trump has promised that Mexico would pay for the colossal, Game of Thrones-esque wall he says he will build between the United States and Mexico if elected president. Trump’s immigration policy (if you can call a wall a policy) is the backbone of his campaign, but there are a number of practical impediments, even if you take questions of national character out of the equation. One impediment is that walls don’t work that way. And another is that Mexico is obviously not going to pay for the wall—in fact, former Mexican President Vincente Fox said the country is “not going to pay for that fucking wall.” 

In the past, Trump has said that he’ll leverage the trade deficit to pay for the wall, which suggests that Trump does not understand how trade deficits work—or the nature of trade with Mexico. But on Monday night, Trump unveiled a new plan to pay for the wall in a memo sent to The Washington Post: He’ll “cut off the flow of billions of dollars in payments that immigrants send home to the country.” This, as the Post notes, “would jeopardize a stream of cash that many economists say is vital for Mexico’s struggling economy” and enormously strain relations between the United States and Mexico. But it would also decimate the lives of thousands of Mexicans who rely on payments from family members in the United States to stay afloat. Donald Trump’s plan to pay for the wall is to hold the lives of Mexico’s most vulnerable citizens hostage.