It would be impossible to implement. It's unconstitutional. It's an insult to voters' intelligence. These objections apply to most of Donald Trump's ideas, including his latest scheme. The Washington Post reports:
"Donald Trump says he will force Mexico to pay for a border wall as president by threatening to cut off the flow of billions of dollars in payments that immigrants send home to the country, an idea that could decimate the Mexican economy and set up an unprecedented showdown between the United States and a key diplomatic ally. . . .
"But the feasibility of Trump's plan is unclear both legally and politically, and also would test the bounds of a president's executive powers in seeking to pressure another country."
As with his plans to round up and deport 11 million to 12 million people, the cost of enforcement would be huge. More important, it would require a massive distortion of the Patriot Act. ("Trump said he would threaten to change a rule under the USA Patriot Act antiterrorism law to cut off a portion of the funds sent to Mexico through money transfers, commonly known as remittances. The threat would be withdrawn if Mexico made 'a one-time payment of $5-10 billion' to pay for the border wall, he wrote.") Like any two-bit extortionist, Trump in essence is saying, "Hey, nice country you've got there, Mexico. It would be a shame if anything happened to it."
Ironically, Trump's plan has many of the same tactics President Obama has used in his delayed deportation gambit and his efforts to expand the reach of the Environmental Protection Agency, extend the power of recess appointments and enlarge the realm of executive privilege. Both Trump and Obama favor unprecedented unilateral action and a willful misreading of applicable law (statutory or constitutional). Perhaps now liberals will reconsider the merits of Obama's inclination to act unilaterally when Congress will not do its business.
Figuring out who is illegal and what accounts belong to which people would, of course, involve enormous expansion of government power and widespread snooping into ordinary Americans' financial affairs. The plan tells us several things about Trump.
First, if he wants to do all these things, presumably he will want to appoint justices to the Supreme Court that allow him to act in these plainly unconstitutional ways. These would not be justices in the mode of Antonin Scalia. Those arguing that Trump would be better than Hillary Clinton because he would appoint conservative justices need a new excuse for supporting Trump.
Second, his lack of conception of how our Constitution works and how to accomplish policy aims reinforces the growing perception that he is uniquely unfit for the presidency. His contempt for anyone who disagrees with him suggests that in a Trump administration he would have to select equally unprincipled, ignorant advisers who would gladly carry out his edicts.
Third, Trump would not succeed, of course. Just as Obama was halted in his tracts by the courts, Trump also would find himself stymied by the judicial branch, not to mention Congress (which could choose to legislatively bar his actions). What then? Would he defy the courts or just whine that he cannot attain his goals because of nefarious forces (e.g. federal courts, popular opinion)? It is a recipe for constitutional crisis and manufactured anger as voters discover they have been sold a bill of goods. (If Trump did somehow manage to stop remittances, of course, a massive recession would trigger new waves of illegal immigrants who'd overwhelm whatever wall or other measures he would dream up to control the border.)
Fourth, Trump's strongest fan base -- anti-immigrant extremists, low-information voters, alienated working-class whites, other aggrieved Americans and media opportunists carrying his water (e.g. Breitbart, Sean Hannity) -- will not object. They will characterize opposition to Trump's nonsense as efforts by "the establishment" to persecute their hero. Here, however, is where his mob enticement conflicts with his strategic interests.
With each gaffe and nutty idea, Trump is systematically narrowing his base of support, losing women, those making over $50,000, better-educated voters and evangelicals, to name a few. His chances of getting to 1,237 delegates before the Republican national convention are diminishing. Once his fate is in the hands of convention delegates -- many of whom are party regulars, ideologically serious conservatives and elected officials -- his harebrained ideas become reasons to abandon him after the first round of voting.
Trump's flurry of gaffes, enlistment of his wife on the campaign trail and his latest inane idea suggest that desperation, if not hysteria, has overtaken his campaign. He's losing his grip on the race, and whatever he does seems to make things worse. If this is any indication of his executive skills, one must conclude that he is erratic, irrational and inept. Not the sort of man to make America great.