It’s never going to happen.
It is simply impossible to overstate the symbolic importance both the wall and the idea that Mexico would pay for it had in 2016. Everything about Trump was embodied within it: the xenophobia, the vision of a world of threats and danger, the belief that complex problems have easy solutions, and most of all, the desire to stand tall and humiliate others, which was so critical to voters who felt beaten down and humiliated themselves. That’s why the preposterous notion that Mexico would pay for the wall was so critical: not because we need Mexico’s money, but because forcing them to pay would be an act of dominance, making them kneel before us, open up their wallets, and pay us for their own abasement.
Whenever a Mexican official would say that of course they weren’t going to pay for a wall, Trump would tell his crowds, “The wall just got ten feet higher!” And oh, would they cheer, thrilled beyond measure at the idea of punishing Mexico for its insolence and showing them who the boss is. Yes, the wall was about fear and hatred of immigrants, but more than anything it was a vision of empowerment.
But just look what Trump has been reduced to now:
Those are the words of a man who knows that he can’t keep his promise.