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Donald Trump says he will build a wall, but will Mexico really pay for it?

President-elect Donald Trump is facing new questions over a central campaign promise: that he will build a sturdy wall on the southwest border and Mexico will pay for it.

Multiple media reported on congressional talks over how to pay for the wall, including a CNN report Thursday night that said Trump's team wants to ask Congress for money to construct the wall as soon as April.

That provoked a sharp response from Trump, who essentially confirmed the report, while denying he had given up on compelling Mexico to pay for it.

Trump insisted throughout the presidential campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall, turning the promise into a call-and-response style chant at his rallies.

Mexican government officials have forcefully rejected that demand and many political and government experts have called it fanciful.

But this is not the first time Trump has indicated that U.S. taxpayers would front the costs.

During an October speech in Gettysburg, Pa., in which he outlined promises for his first 100 days in office, if elected, Trump said he would ask Congress to approve legislation that fully funds a wall.

"Don't worry about it," he said at the time. "Remember, I said Mexico is paying for the wall, with the full understand[ing] that the country of Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such a wall, OK?"

Trump has said the wall could cost up to $12 billion to build. An analysis published by MIT Technology Review estimated the cost at $38 billion, nearly the entire annual budget for the 22 federal agencies in the Department of Homeland Security.

The Homeland Security Department has authority to build physical barriers and structures on the border and some immigration hawks have argued that Trump doesn't need permission from Congress.

But he would certainly need its approval for the type of cash infusion needed for a substantial wall, particularly the type of big showcase wall he has talked about.

Next year's budget for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency for the Border Patrol, includes $175 million for "procurement, construction and improvements." Even if that money is diverted to the wall, it wouldn't go very far in a multibillion-dollar project.

Whether Trump has leverage is unclear. He has touted the fact that Mexican workers in the United States transfer $24 billion in earnings back home each year to help their families.

Trump supporters have proposed imposing a fee on remittances from people not authorized to work in the U.S., though it's not clear how that would work. It would surely provoke opposition from financial services interests.

The president can reduce or slow down the process by which Mexicans get travel cards and visitors' visas. But that could backfire by hurting businesses and tourism near the border.

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