Donald Trump has based much of his presidential campaign on his ability not only to build a vast border wall to keep illegal immigrants from entering the U.S., but also to force Mexico to pay for it.

Trump's campaign released a memo Tuesday outlining how Mexico can be compelled to pay for a border wall. There's only one problem: Even if Mexico pays for a border wall, Trump's plan would still hurt Americans.

Let's set aside any economic implications that would result from a likley decrease in illegal immigration if the wall were built. Let's focus instead on Trump's plan to raise tariffs (by an unspecified amount) on Mexican goods. The plan cites the "trade deficit" the United States has with Mexico as a problem.

"By definition, if you have a large trade deficit with a nation, it means they are selling far more to you than the reverse." So far, so good. "Thus they, not you, stand to lose from enforcing trade rules through tariffs." This is only true if you ignore the $58 billion in products that Americans got, on net, from Mexico in 2015.

When American consumers trade with Mexican businesses, it's a win-win for both countries. "Trump continues to recycle the outdated, discredited mercantilist philosophy of trade," Mark Perry, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told me. "The fact that we buy more of their goods than they buy of ours still results in thousands of win-win transactions with satisfied buyers and sellers. You could even make a case that because we buy more of their goods than they buy of ours, it's Americans who need Mexican goods more than Mexicans need American goods."

Think of all the goods Mexico can produce better than the United States: certain types of soybeans, rice, coffee beans, textiles, mining resources and tobacco, to name a few examples. It's not bad that Mexico can produce these products better than Americans can. Americans produce many other products better than Mexico can. Americans trade products that we specialize in to Mexico, and vice versa. Everybody wins. Americans would be worse off if a tariff made it more expensive to buy those Mexican-made goods.

In essence, if Trump raises tariffs on Mexican imports, Americans are still the ones paying for the wall. "Increasing tariffs on Mexican imports would not be paid for by Mexicans, but would be taxes/tariffs paid by Americans in the form of higher prices, and would therefore penalize American consumers and businesses. ... Both Americans and Mexicans stand to lose with tariffs – American consumers and business have to pay higher prices, or can no longer afford Mexican goods, and are made worse off." Perry says, since the U.S. receives more products from Mexico than vice versa, Americans would actually lose more than Mexicans from tariffs or trade restrictions.

That's why most economists agree that free trade is good for the economy. In a December 2014 University of Chicago survey, economists widely disagreed with the statement: "A typical country can increase its citizens' welfare by enacting policies that would ... decrease its trade deficit." A month prior, economists widely agreed that past free trade deals benefited most Americans.

The more trade, the better, and Trump's plan would cut down on that trade with tariffs. Trump's short-sighted view is that the trade deficit is a bad thing, because it means Americans send more money to Mexico via trade than vice versa. But just because the trade deficit includes the word "deficit" doesn't make it a bad thing.

While some Americans are in jobs that compete with Mexican goods, the vast majority of Americans benefit from trade. "[Trump] ignores the U.S. industries and workers who are supported by the additional spending that takes place because Americans save money buying from Mexico, and he ignores the US companies and their workers who benefit from buying low-cost inputs from Mexico," Perry says.

Trump has been claiming that his wall would cost only $8 billion to build. If that were true, Trump's plan to pressure the Mexican government to give the U.S. $5-10 billion in a one-time payment could pay for a wall partially or in full.

But fact-checkers estimate the cost of the wall is probably closer to $25 billion. Trump's plan doesn't detail how much money would be made through the other parts of his plan: cancelling visas and raising visa fees. It's unclear exactly how much he would raise tariffs on Mexican goods. Regardless, the more he would raise tariffs, the worse off Americans would be.

Jason Russell is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.