Thomas Gallatin / Apr. 1, 2019

Trump Threatens Border Shutdown Amid Crisis

He threatens Mexico in order to get help to stem tide of illegal aliens flowing through that country.

As the illegal-immigration crisis grows, President Donald Trump on Friday threatened to shut down the U.S. southern border entirely if Mexico doesn’t step up its efforts to stem the tide of illegals currently flowing through its country from Central America. “If they don’t stop them, we are closing the border. We’ll close it. And we’ll keep it closed for a long time,” Trump threatened, adding, “I’m not playing games.” By shutting down the border, Trump was referring to closing all legal ports of entry on the U.S. southern border.

Over the weekend, Trump further threatened to withhold an estimated $700 million in aid funding to the Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, a region known as the Northern Triangle, from which the vast majority of the latest influx of illegals originate. A State Department spokesman explained, “At the Secretary’s instruction, we are carrying out the President’s direction and ending FY 2017 and FY 2018 foreign assistance programs for the Northern Triangle. We will be engaging Congress as part of this process.”

The bad news? Even if Congress approves the State Department’s withholding of $700 million, it will likely have little impact, as it amounts to only a drop in the bucket when compared to the $120 billion illegal-alien workers have funneled to their family members back home in the Northern Triangle over the last decade.

Trump’s threats raise further questions. The president does have authority to close ports of entry temporarily in cases of emergency, but he does not have the authority to close the border indefinitely. As with everything else, he will certainly be challenged in the courts should he attempt to do so.

Secondly, closing these ports of entry would have little direct impact on stopping illegal border crossings, so why do so? It appears that Trump’s play here is directed at spurring the Mexican government into greater action to stem the tide. Since 80% of Mexico’s exports go to the U.S., the economic impact of any long-term border closing would prove devastating to the Mexican economy, though with significant economic consequences for the U.S. as well. If the border were to be shut down indefinitely, the negative economic impact upon Americans would quickly run into billions of dollars with each passing week. Therefore, despite Trump’s rhetoric, it appears unlikely that he will order a long-term border shutdown; it’s negotiating leverage.

Interestingly, recent polling finds that Trump now has a 50% approval rating among Hispanics, indicating favorable support for his border-enforcement policy among a demographic of Americans the mainstream media claims would be opposed. Many recognize that flooding the marketplace with hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens only serves to undercut the earning potential of lower-skilled American workers and legal immigrants.

A final note: The underlying issue that needs to be addressed is the pull factor of America’s flawed asylum system. It is currently being exploited by illegal aliens who know that once they get into the U.S., the chances of their being able to stay are significantly higher than their being deported.

(Edited.)

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