Far be it for me to predict Donald Trump will act in a rational manner. But that is exactly what I will do concerning the bombastic and dangerous talk of closing down the border with Mexico. The economic stakes are too high for anyone sitting in the Oval Office to do otherwise. Even Trump.
There is no shortage of economic data to support the damage done to the economy from the 35-day US government shutdown in December and January caused by Donald Trump, and prolonged by the Republican majority in the senate. It was a painful reminder that rash and overly partisan moves results in dire economic consequences. Now consider that the threat over shutting down the southern border would be akin to the shutdown, but this time on steroids.
Trump blustered and fumed last week but once his spittle had dried the facts remained. Suspending “all trade” with Mexico, as he threatened, would mean bringing one of the world’s largest trade relationships to a standstill. Such a move would short-circuit Wall Street with stocks taking a sucker-punch, severely constrict commerce as freezing the movement of traffic across the planet’s busiest international border would stun customers and start moving prices higher on some items. Such as avocados! Long-term consequences are not things Trump ponders as he is a day-trader in American politics. But many grasp should the US sabotage its relationship with Mexico it allows for an opening with both China and the EU to step in and prove to be more reliable partners.
Trump is fixated with his polls and knows he will be the first victim of such a ridiculous power play. Trump’s poll numbers will sink as they did over the shutdown when his disapproval rating scored an an all-time high. But a border closing would rock his numbers even more severely.
Trump is not to be taken seriously about closing the border when one takes a complete view of the matter at hand. Even with current month-to-month numbers higher for migrants seeking asylum, the full weight of the economic relationship with Mexico far exceeds the xenophobia which controls much of his words and actions.
While some think that roughly 75,000 migrants taken into custody each month is high consider the estimated 1 million people who legally move across the border every day. That is a stunning number which then adds to the roughly $1.7 billion in merchandise that is traded each day between Mexico and the United States, according to the US Chamber of Commerce. Consider that over 13,000 trucks and 1,000 rail cars pass over the border each day. They carry nearly half of all fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in the United States.
Even with Trump’s lack of reasoning, and dislike of reading and learning there is no way Trump would jeopardize this economic engine. What would his GOP corporate board friends do when parts for their factories languish at the border? What happens to the meat in the trucks? And if those Trump supporters who dislike brown people do not care about the cargo in the trucks and trains what might they feel for the roughly 5 million American jobs that are directly dependent on US-Mexico trade?
There is no way Trump closes the complete border just so to stop 2,500 or so Central Americans, desperate for a better life, who daily approach to seek asylum. Not even Trump is so idiotic to create such HUGE disaster.
And so it goes.