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Donald Trump wants to force Mexico to pay for a giant wall along the southern US border by threatening to cut off billions of dollars sent home by Mexican immigrants, a US newspaper reported Tuesday.
The Republican frontrunner's promise to build the wall, in a bid to stop illegal immigration, and force Mexico to foot the estimated $8 billion bill is a cornerstone of his increasingly under fire campaign for the presidency.
Long dogged by questions about how he would force the Mexico to pay for a project, The Washington Post said Trump gave them a memo outlining his plans.
In the two-page document, Trump threatened to change a rule under the anti-terrorism Patriot Act that would cut off a portion of the funds sent to Mexico through money transfers, the newspaper reported.
The billions of dollars wired home by Mexicans living overseas each year is one of the most important sources of income for Mexico along with oil and tourism.
The Post said the feasibility of Trump's plan was unclear both legally and politically, and that the idea could decimate the Mexican economy and set up an unprecedented showdown between the United States and a key diplomatic ally.
Trump's memo said the threat would be withdrawn if Mexico made "a one-time payment of $5-10 billion" to pay for the wall, the newspaper said.
"It's an easy decision for Mexico," it quoted Trump as saying in the memo, which the Post said was written on campaign stationery.
After the wall is funded, Trump wrote, transfer payments could continue "to flow into their country year after year."
Called "Compelling Mexico to Pay for the Wall," the memo included other potential intimidation tactics such as increased trade tariffs, cancelling visas, and higher fees for border-crossing cards, the Post said.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has made clear "there is no scenario" in which his country would pay for a wall. He has compared Trump's rhetoric to the rise of European dictators Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request to comment.