Experts are warning that President Trump’s threat to close the U.S. border with Mexico would cost American taxpayers heavily, as “a billion dollars of commerce that crosses the border every single day.”
Trump threatened to close down the border in a Friday tweet if Democrats do not approve $5 billion in funding for his border wall which he repeatedly promised to get Mexico to pay for.
“We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall & also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with,” Trump wrote in the Friday tweet.
“It would affect the U.S. economy massively and very negatively,” said Chris Wilson, deputy director at The Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, and the co-author of a study on the border economy.
“There’s about a billion dollars of commerce that crosses the border every single day, so every day it’s closed we’re losing out on hundreds of millions of dollars,” he added.
Democrats say they will only support legislation that includes $1.6 for border security, including $1.3 billion for fencing.
The Hill notes:
Mexico is America’s third largest trade partner, and the two economies are deeply intertwined, with $558 billion in goods crossing the border in two-way trade last year alone. The Commerce Department estimated that in 2015, nearly 100,000 American jobs were supported by goods trade with Mexico.
Experts warn that if the border were to be shut down, the consequences would be immediate.
“The first thing you’d start to see is a spike in car prices and factories in trouble,” said Richard Miles, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Americas program.
A huge proportion of American trade with Mexico deals in parts, so shutting the border would immediately throw a wrench into the auto supply chain, as well as other manufacturing.
Another major casualty would be agriculture, which would hit farm states already facing a squeeze from a trade war with China. Miles noted that corn and soybean exports to Mexico are big business for farmers in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois and Indiana. American consumers would see the difference at the supermarket, said Wilson.
Many foods such as avocados, tomatoes, lettuce, celery and a variety of berries come to the United State by way of Mexico.
“It’s winter, so we don’t produce a whole lot of fruits and vegetables in the United States. By and large we depend on Mexico to supply our grocery stores in the winter,” said Wilson, who estimated that some 70 percent of that produce comes into the U.S. by truck.
“There are almost a million legal crossings every single day. In Tijuana alone, it’s like 50,000 vehicles and 25,000 pedestrians. That’s day laborers, nannies, landscapers coming in, and the other way around. It’s services like architects to engineers to high-skilled labor,” said Miles.