A Republican lawmaker has presented a bill in the House which proposes imposing a tax on money sent abroad by immigrants.
The purpose of the 2 percent tax on wire transfers would be to fund President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico, The Washington Times reported.
Estimates by the World Bank put the amount of remittances sent out of the United States by immigrants at more than $50 billion annually. One study by the Pew Research Center put the figure as high as $133 billion in 2015. Assuming the Pew figure is correct, a 2 percent tax would bring in more than $2 billion annually if it was applied to all money transfers.
"This bill is simple -- anyone who sends their money to countries that benefit from our porous borders and illegal immigration should be responsible for providing some of the funds needed to complete the wall," said Rep. Mike Rogers, according to The Times. "This bill keeps money in the American economy, and most importantly, it creates a funding stream to build the wall."
Republican Rep. Lou Barletta is supporting Rogers with the bill.
In 2015, Mexico, India and China were the top three beneficiaries from remittances from the United States. Mexico topped the list with $24 billion being sent there.
Trump initially promised to make Mexico pay for the border wall. But after the Mexican government refused, He stated that American taxpayers would cover the cost and would be reimbursed later.
However, his plans to ask Congress for money could be running into difficulty. Republicans intend to tie the funding to a bill that must be passed by April 28 in order to avoid a government shutdown.
Democrats have declared they will oppose the bill if it contains any funding for the wall, but the Republicans have to rely on Democratic support to get the legislation adopted.
Some Republicans are therefore considering separating the two issues, according to Politico. This would mean that a vote on funds for Trump's wall from Congress would be unlikely this spring.
"It remains to be seen," Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn told Politico. "What I would like to see is a plan for how the money would be spent and a good faith discussion about what border security is really composed of. We haven't had that."
Cornyn emphasized that the Republicans were not going to risk a government funding crisis, adding, "There's not going to be a shutdown."