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Trump’s threat to close border stirs fears of economic harm

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    Cars and trucks line up to enter Mexico from the U.S. at a border crossing in El Paso, Texas, Friday, March 29, 2019. Threatening drastic action against Mexico, President Donald Trump declared on Friday he is likely to shut down America’s southern border next week unless Mexican authorities immediately halt all illegal immigration. Such a severe move could hit the economies of both countries, but the president emphasized, “I am not kidding around.” (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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    FILE - In this Dec. 10, 2015, file photo, pedestrians crossing from Mexico into the United States at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry wait in line in San Diego. As many as 2,000 U.S. inspectors who screen cargo and vehicles at ports of entry along the Mexican border may be reassigned to help handle the surge of Central American families coming across, the Trump administration said Monday, April 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy, File)

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    Central American migrants wait for food in El Paso, Texas, Wednesday, March 27, 2019, in a pen erected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to process a surge of migrant families and unaccompanied minors. Earlier, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, center, announced the the Trump administration will temporarily reassign several hundred border inspectors, during a news conference at the border in El Paso. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

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    Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, center, announced that the Trump administration will temporarily reassign several hundred border inspectors during a news conference at the border in El Paso, Texas, Wednesday, March 27, 2019. McAleenan said the reassignment of 750 border inspectors would mean longer waits at crossings as the busy Easter holiday nears but that it was necessary to address what he called “an operational crisis.” The reassigned officers will process migrants, provide transportation and perform hospital watches for migrants who require medical attention. It is unknown when they will return to their regular duties. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

Published April 02. 2019 05:38AM

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — President Donald Trump’s threat to shut down the southern border raised fears Monday of dire economic consequences in the U.S. and an 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.

“If trade were interrupted, U.S. producers would suffer crippling disruptions of their supply chains, American families would see prices spike for food and cars, and U.S. exporters would be cut off from their third-largest market,” he said.

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.

Elected leaders from border communities stretching from San Diego to cities across Texas warned that havoc would ensue on both sides of the international boundary if the ports were closed. They were joined by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which said such a step would inflict “severe economic harm.”

In California’s Imperial Valley, across from Mexicali, Mexico, farmers rely on workers who come across every day from Mexico to harvest fields of lettuce, carrots, onions and other winter vegetables. Shopping mall parking lots in the region are filled with cars with Mexican plates.

More than 60 percent of all Mexican winter produce consumed in the U.S. crosses into the country at Nogales, Arizona. The winter produce season is especially heavy right now, with the import of Mexican-grown watermelons, grapes and squash, said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.

He said 11,000 to 12,000 commercial trucks cross the border at Nogales daily, laden with about 50 million pounds of produce such as eggplants, tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, cucumbers and berries.

He said a closing of the border would lead to immediate layoffs and result in shortages and price increases at grocery stores and restaurants.

“If this happens — and I certainly hope it doesn’t — I’d hate to go into a grocery store four or five days later and see what it looks like,” Jungmeyer said.

Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz, chairman of the Texas Border Coalition, said a closure would be catastrophic.

“Closing the border would cause an immediate depression in border state communities and, depending on the duration, a recession in the rest of the country,” he said.

“Our business would end,” said Marta Salas, an employee at an El Paso shop near the border that sells plastic flowers that are used on the Mexican side by families holding quinceañeras, the traditional coming-of-age celebrations.

Salas said her whole family, including relatives who attend the University of Texas at El Paso, would be affected if the border were closed.

“There are Americans who live there. I have nephews who come to UTEP, to grade school, to high school every day,” Salas said.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration said Monday as many as 2,000 U.S. inspectors who screen cargo and vehicles at ports of entry along the Mexican border may be reassigned to help handle the surge of migrants. Currently, about 750 inspectors are being reassigned.

That, too, could slow the movement of trucks and people across the border.

The effects were evident Monday: Sergio Amaya, a 24-year-old American citizen who lives in Juarez, Mexico, and attends UTEP, said it normally takes him two minutes to cross the bridge. It took an hour this time.

“The Border Patrol agent said it’s going to get worse,” Amaya said.

Instead of ensuring the flow of goods across the border, the inspectors are being put to work processing migrants, taking their applications for asylum and transporting them to holding centers.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the reassignments are necessary to help manage the huge influx that is overloading the system.

“The crisis at our border is worsening, and DHS will do everything in its power to end it,” Nielsen said.

In addition to reassigning inspectors, Nielsen has asked for volunteers from non-immigration agencies within her department and sent a letter to Congress requesting resources and broader authority to deport families faster. The administration is also ramping up efforts to return asylum seekers to Mexico.

Apprehensions all along the southern border have soared in recent months, with border agents on track to make 100,000 arrests and denials of entry there in March, more than half of them families with children.

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Associated Press writers Colleen Long in Washington, Elliot Spagat in San Diego, Nomaan Merchant in Houston and Anita Snow in Phoenix contributed to this story.

Comments
DO, why do you exhibit cognitive dysfunction time and time again? Your insults only make one person out to be a jerk...you. You seem proud in your ignorance. Keep it up. All indications are that your “brain is leaking sewage again.” Pointing out your hypocrisy...again you botch the spelling in a seven word post. Don’t forget to cap the “T” in Trump, as a sign of respect. You can’t even spell, then you go on to insult the President. You are the, “retarded” one. Don’t be a dirty condescending little punk any more. It sure is funny to see you self-destruct. Keep it up! I am going to stuff it right back down your throat. Who is the “retarded” one, as you say now!
How sad that the obstructing far left fools continue the fight against COMMON SENSE.
The President declared, he's "Not Playing Games". That's really clear. We the people of common sense, stand with him. Whatever the outcome? So Be It!
The root cause falls on those who encourage the illogical, unlawful breech of our border. The enabler (Mexico), could make changes, but there's very loud voices of an obstructing nature, here within our leadership, shouting confusion. I identify the root cause of confusion, as the spirit of diabolic forces, not of God. So Be It!
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Give it a shot. I've been down there and I want to be able to watch the chaos and human suffering on both sides of the border on my HDTV. Good Times

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