President Donald Trump’s threat to shut down the southern border raised fears Monday of dire economic consequences in the U.S. and upheaval of daily life in a stretch of the country that relies on the international flow of not just goods and services but also students, families, and workers.
Politicians, business leaders, and economists warned that such a move would block incoming shipments of fruits and vegetables, TVs, medical devices, and other products and cut off people who commute to their jobs or school or come across to go shopping.
“Let’s hope the threat is nothing but a bad April Fools’ joke,” said economist Dan Griswold at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia. He said Trump’s threat would be the “height of folly,” noting that an average of 15,000 trucks and $1.6 billion in goods cross the border every day.
Dairymen Say Border Closure Would Be ‘Punch in the Gut’
The nation’s dairymen vociferously criticized the president’s threat.
“Closing the U.S. southern border to Mexico would be a gut punch that could set the industry back by a decade or two,” said Tom Vilsack, president/CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. “Dairy exporters already are suffering from diminished access to export markets due to high tariffs and lack of progress on U.S. trade agreements.”
In 2018, a record 15.8 percent of U.S. milk production was exported. Mexico was the largest single customer for U.S. dairy exports, with sales of $1.4 billion. The impact would be even bigger on California dairies. Half of the state’s dairy exports go to Mexico.
Rep. Cox Blisters the President
In a statement released by his office, Rep. TJ Cox (D-Fresno) blistered the president for talking about closing the U.S. border with Mexico.
“Enough is enough. These misguided threats by the President and his Administration are making our farmers and ranchers poorer, and the Central Valley less prosperous,” Cox said. “We cannot and should not negotiate with our countries by using the livelihoods of our farmers and ranchers as bargaining chips.”
The Trump Tweet
Trump brought up the possibility of closing ports of entry along the southern border Friday and revisited it in tweets over the weekend because of a surge of Central Americans migrants who are seeking asylum. Trump administration officials have said the influx is straining the immigration system to the breaking point.