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Trump’s threat to close the U.S./Mexico border also threatens U.S. economy

In October of last year, President Donald Trump threatened to close the southern U.S./Mexico border when a large group, of mostly Hondurans, was reportedly making their way to the border in hopes of entering the United States.

Once again, Trump has made these threats as the number of Central Americans entering the United States from Mexico has risen. If the closure were implemented, the effects would severely impact the American economy and food scarcity, especially among local communities.

The Trump Administration and Republicans have not acquired the billions needed for building the proposed concrete border wall. The White House has glazed over this fact by posting videos of construction with the caption: “Simply put: Walls work, and walls save lives.” The construction happening is Congress’ approval for a $1.6 billion budget to replace existing barriers and add fencing. It is not the concrete prototype that Trump originally advertised.

The total cost of expanding the current barriers over the entire border would be about $70 billion to build and $150 million to maintain each year. Trump has continued to voice that Central American immigrants coming to the border will create higher rates of crime despite the role the United States politically has played in the region, evoking poverty, and crime, causing them to leave their homes.

In order to put a stop to illegal immigration, Trump believes that “closing up the country” will solve the problem. Ceasing border traffic with one of the United States’ largest trading partners could heavily impact the economy.

“Sure, it’s going to have a negative impact on the economy,” Trump said when asked questions by a reporter during an oval office open press meeting, “…we’re going to have security in this country. That’s more important than trade.”

A border shutdown could cause lower quantities of produce and the higher prices would even further impact marginalized communities in America who already have trouble getting access to those types of foods.

Shutting down the entire border would stop the $1.6 billion in goods that travel back and forth, including much of the United States’ produce. The nation could run out of avocados in less than a month, along with many other fresh fruits and vegetables that come from Mexico.

Farming operations in all of California, especially Ventura County, could also face a serious labor shortage that would lead to unpicked crops and higher prices for the public. Growers rely on migrant workers to complete their harvest. Many agricultural workers are hired through the H-2A visa program to harvest fruits and vegetables on a temporary basis.

The effects of closing the border would reach more people outside of the border region, especially people in the nation who drive cars. The United States relies on Mexico for over $113 billion in auto parts and almost $36 billion in exports that crossed the border last year. About 37% of all imported auto parts comes from Mexico, especially critical parts like the wire harnesses that are used in 70% of all vehicles assembled in the United States.

Even since he was a presidential candidate, Trump had tried to convince auto manufacturers like General Motors and Ford to reel back their vehicle production with Mexican plants, but there has been little effort to do so.

He has put pressure on U.S. trade partners, Mexico and Canada, to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, renamed USMCA, into annual trade between the three countries but Congress did not approve Trump’s proposed deal.

According to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a healthy automotive industry is vital to the U.S. economy. 50% of the companies listed in the Dow Jones Industrial Average depend on automobiles for revenue.

The auto industry has already been impacted by Trump’s trade decisions. According to Ford and General motors, they were charged $1 billion over last year as a tax on their use of imported aluminum and steel.

There have been reports of a weakening economy beginning in the first quarter of 2019 and a total shutdown of goods and trade along the border could potentially push the United States into a recession that economists have long forewarned.