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Transportation associations warn Trump against border closure

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Despite postponing his threat to entirely close the United States’ southern border with Mexico, President Donald Trump has created a number of problems for truckers, prompting a coalition of 18 organizations, among them the American Trucking Associations and the Association of American Railroads, to issue a letter to the president warning that billions of dollars of commerce flowing between the two countries is in peril if the administration continues to hint at widespread closures. The Border Patrol has even closed some commercial vehicle lanes in order to divert personnel to deal with an influx of migrants seeking asylum, causing havoc for truckers attempting to deliver goods.

In a letter directed at top economic advisors in the Trump Administration, freight organizations asserted that more than $1.4 billion in goods crossed the border every single day and that interruptions to the flow can have dire consequences for the U.S. economy as a whole, especially for the agricultural and automotive sectors. In fact, six of the organizations to sign on to the letter represent automobile manufacturers who figure to be the biggest losers because of the interrelated nature of supply lines with Mexico.

A representative of those groups said, “The auto sector—and the 10 million jobs it supports—relies upon the North American supply chain and cross-border commerce to remain globally competitive and forced shutdown of auto assembly plants due to a border closure would cost the auto industry billions of dollars per day.” The letter further notes that more than 50,000 railroad jobs are also affected by any border disruptions.

In his zeal to secure the border against illegal immigration, Trump appears to have ignored even his own administration’s facts and figures. First, it would be virtually impossible to close the entire length of the 2,000-mile border with Mexico. Since the establishment of NAFTA in 1993, Mexico has become a top trading partner with the U.S. and two-way trade in goods has risen from just over $80 billion a year to over $500 billion in the last 26 years.

Second, Trump’s claim that he needs to build a wall to keep out illegal drugs ignores the fact that almost all drug trafficking goes on at official ports of entry. Third, in the eyes of most critics, Trump has artificially created a problem at the border, ignoring statistics which say that illegal crossings remain historically low. Also, contrary to Trump’s contentions, most illegal immigration does not involve the Mexican border but is a product of immigrants overstaying their visas.     

 

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