After milking the story for days, Trump decided to give Mexico a “warning.”
After a week of threats, pledges and promises, President Donald Trump has decided not to close the border between the United States and Mexico.
On Thursday, Trump announced there will be no imminent shut-down. However, he did retain closure as an option if Mexico doesn’t “stop, or largely stop” the flow of drugs and undocumented immigrants into the U.S.
“You know I will do it,” Trump told reporters in the Cabinet Room of the White House. “I don’t play games.”
According to The Hill, the president said he’d enact auto tariffs on Mexico if its leadership doesn’t bolster protection on its side of the border.
“If the drugs don’t stop, or largely stop, we’re going to put tariffs on Mexico and products, in particular cars,” Trump said. “The whole ballgame is cars. And if that doesn’t stop the drugs, we close the border.”
The reversal should come as relief to businesses and people worried about the effects of a sudden end to cross-border traffic. Earlier in the week, representatives for the automotive industry predicted that a seven-day shutdown would drive car manufacturing to a sudden a stop. And for that reason, Trump’s proposed tariffs could have consequences for American businesses, too.
Congress must get together and immediately eliminate the loopholes at the Border! If no action, Border, or large sections of Border, will close. This is a National Emergency!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 3, 2019
As CNN noted near the beginning of April, an estimated fifth of all U.S. car parts originate in Mexico. There’s nary a modern vehicle on American roads today that isn’t outfitted with components that crossed the border at least once.
But not content to deliver an unequivocal reprieve, Trump took to Twitter to levy more threats—this time at Congress.
“If no action, Border, or large sections of Border, will close,” Trump wrote, imploring lawmakers to “immediately” close “loopholes” in extant immigration law.
“This is a National Emergency,” the president added, in reference to his own recent orders.
For now, though, a real emergency has been diverted; even leading Republicans took the week to protest Trump’s pondering of a border closure.
“Closing down the border would have [a] potentially catastrophic economic impact on our country, and I would hope we would not be doing that,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said.
While not as verbally wary as McConnell, Vox notes that White House officials preferred to spin Trump’s threats as a necessity borne of logistical leaps and hurdles.
“Why are we talking about closing the border?” asked acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in a Sunday interview with ABC News. “Not for spite and not to—not to try and—and undo what’s happening, but simply to say, look, we need the people from the ports of entry to go out and patrol the desert.”
And lately, officers have been reassigned—Vox says that truck back-ups were observed in Otay Mesa on Monday. On Wednesday, lines to enter El Paso from Ciudad Juarez were so long that the local government deployed port-a-potties for stranded motorists.
Trump, at least, is now being a bit more honest: no matter what he writes on Twitter, he’s admitted a border closure is a bargaining tactic rather a last-ditch effort at national defense.
“If we don’t make a deal with Congress, or if Mexico—and probably you can say ‘and/or’—if Mexico doesn’t do what they should be doing, then we’re going to close the border,” Trump said. “That’s going to be it.”