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A history of Trump’s promises that Mexico would pay for the wall, which it refuses to do

“I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively, I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.”

— Donald Trump, in his presidential announcement speech, June 16, 2015

“What we save on the USMCA — the new trade deal we have with Mexico and Canada — what we save on that, just with Mexico, will pay for the wall many times over just in a period of a year, two years and three years. … So I view that as, absolutely, Mexico is paying for the wall.”

— Trump, remarks during a news conference, Jan. 4, 2019

President Trump promised that Mexico would pay for his plan to build a wall along the southern border. But he did not make this promise just once or even two dozen times. From his announcement speech to the election, he declared 212 times that Mexico would pay for the wall, according to the comprehensive record of Trump’s speeches, interviews and tweets maintained by That works out to almost every two days during the campaign.

Mexico refuses to pay for the wall, and Trump has engineered a government shutdown to try to force Congress to appropriate the necessary funds. Yet he insists that Mexico is paying for the wall because of a reworking of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that his administration negotiated — though it is not yet ratified by Congress.

This is a nonsense claim. When the president first raised it in mid-December, we asked both the U.S. Trade Representative’s office and the Council of Economic Advisers for the economic analysis that justified his statement. The USTR would not respond to our queries, and the CEA said it was a matter for the White House press office. But the White House press office declined to respond.