Republican leaders have joined the automotive industry in blasting the plan’s probable consequences.
As President Trump continues to ponder the possibility of closing down the U.S.-Mexico border, his aides are working to avert disaster.
POLITICO reports that two of the president’s top economic advisers, Kevin Hassett and Larry Kudlow, have shared data, documents and other information with Trump over the course of the last day and a half. Hassett and Kudlow were among many trying to educate the commander-in-chief on the dire consequences of blocking off trade with one of the United States’ most important regional partners.
Other White House officials were purportedly “frantic” Tuesday, seeking both to prevent a shutdown and identifying ways to mitigate a closure’s impact.
Among the ideas floated by administration officials was closing the border to cars but allowing commercial traffic to continue unimpeded. According to POLITICO, the president’s latest proposal has caused alarm among congressional conservatives. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has publicly decried the plan as potentially “catastrophic.”
Yet Trump appears undeterred. On Tuesday, the president told reporters that he felt distributing industry was a price worth paying.
“Sure, it will have a negative effect on the economy,” Trump said, speaking from the Oval Office. “But to me, trading is very important, the borders are very important, but security is what is most important. I mean, we have to have security.”
The oddball announcement is among several shocking suggestions the president has made in recent days.
Between the weekend and Tuesday, Trump also considered again pursuing a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. And he’s been talking about shutting down the border to combat illegal immigration for days.
McConnell, notes POLITICO, agrees the nation is facing a cross-border crisis, but disagrees as to whether the president’s plan is practical.
“Closing down the border would have potentially catastrophic economic impact [sic] on our country and I would hope we would not be doing that,” he said Tuesday.
CNN indicates that a total border closure would lead ‘the entire US auto industry [to] shut down within a week.’ Automakers, says Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research, depend heavily on parts imported from Mexico and labor outsourced to factories across the Rio Grande.
An estimated 16% of all automotive parts used and sold in the United States originate in Mexico. And Dziczek says that almost every car being used today in the U.S. has some Mexican parts.
“You can’t sell cars with missing pieces,” Dziczek said. “You’ve got to have them all. I see the whole industry shutdown with a week of a border closing.”
Companies like Ford, GM and Chrysler referred CNN to a similar statement made by Matt Blunt, president of the American Automotive Policy Council.
“Any action that stops commerce at the border would be harmful to the US economy, and in particular, the auto industry,” Blunt said. “Access to Mexico’s marketplace and North American integration are critical to operations in the US.”
As of Tuesday, Trump’s yet to make a final decision. In the meantime, the president contented himself with cutting off aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, apparently believing that aggravating social strife in Central America would decrease out-migration from the region.
Like usual, the administration has blamed its consideration of radical tactics—in this case, closing down the border–on political rivals.
“This isn’t our first choice,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “Our first choice would be for Democrats to sit down with us and help fix a broken system to address the national security and humanitarian crisis that exists at our border.”