Jamaicans voice concern about US border wall funding proposal

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, April 29, 2017

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Jamaicans who receive money from overseas are not pleased about the proposal introduced to the United States Congress by Republican Congressman Mike Rogers from Alabama, to impose a fee of two per cent of the US dollar amount for remittance transfers to certain foreign countries, including Jamaica.
The remittance fees would be submitted to the US Treasury for the purpose of building President Donald Trump's proposed wall along the US-Mexico border.
Trump, during his election campaign, repeatedly vowed to build a wall along the US-Mexico border and insisted that Mexico would have to pay for it.
After winning the election in November last year, the 45th US president maintained his controversial promise, estimating that the wall would cost US$12 billion.
However, according to an internal report from Homeland Security, the cost for the wall could rise to US$21.5 billion.
When the Jamaica Observer canvassed the Corporate Area this week, recipients expressed their concerns.
Shelly Crawford, a civil servant, thought the proposal was unfair to Jamaicans working and paying taxes in the United States.
“Why would you want to take from what I am sending home to my family. It should not be done and there must be something to prevent him from doing that,” Crawford said.
Crawford, while noting that her parents reside in the US, said they send money monthly to care of her sick sister.
“We have nothing to do with the wall,” Crawford argued, adding that the wall has nothing to do with the Caribbean.
A displeased Crawford said if and when the Bill is passed, she will instruct her parents to refrain from sending money to the island.
“I can take care of my sister. Is either they open an account or something because it nuh make no sense,” Crawford reasoned.
“I am going to tell my relatives not to send their money,” Jacquilene Steel said.
Unlike Steel and Crawford, who say they can afford to do without remittances, 68-year-old Mercedes Taylor said her son sends her approximately US$200 per month.
“I don't feel good about the proposed tax. Him want wall, so him should build it,” Taylor said, adding that the wall has nothing to do with Jamaica.
The senior citizen suggested that he should tax Mexico instead.
According to the Mexican central bank, Mexican immigrants sent approximately US$27 billion home in 2016, the majority of which came from immigrants living in the US.
According to the Bank of Jamaica's remittance report for December 2016, the country's inflow of remittances amounted to just over US$2 billion between January and December, 2016.
Another recipient, Bryan Larmond, argued that the problem was not Jamaica's and Trump had enough funds to fund the construction.
“If him want to build the wall him must find the funds to do it. I don't feel good about it. Him must find some other way to build the wall. He has money, he can use some of his funds to build the wall,” he said.
For Caribbean Maritime Institute student Kim Nelson, remittance is her main source of income and she, too, does not believe the wall will benefit Jamaica.
Myrna Spence, 62, whose daughter sends her money every month, said: “Trump want the wall, so he should build it.”
Both Nelson and Spence suggested that if the taxes were going towards the welfare of immigrants living in the US, they would understand.
“Help the homeless and the needy. Give it to charity,” Spence said.

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