Retailers warn closing southern border would spark 'serious damage'

The retail trade association that represents department stores, grocers and wholesalers warned that closing the southern border with Mexico would hurt U.S. retailers, consumers and workers.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) sent a letter to members of the Trump administration about how retailers rely on Mexico for fruits, vegetables, electronics, appliances, auto parts and apparel, among other things.

“We share the administration’s goal of fixing the nation’s broken immigration system and enhancing border security. However, there is no way to close the U.S-Mexico border without inflicting serious damage to the American economy,” NRF’s president and CEO Matthew Shay wrote in the letter.

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The letter was addressed to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinGOP nervous that border wall fight could prompt year-end shutdown GOP nervous that border wall fight could prompt year-end shutdown Schiff blasts DOJ over memo on withholding Trump tax returns MORE, Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossRoss downplays possibility of deal between U.S., China emerging at possible meeting of leaders Ross downplays possibility of deal between U.S., China emerging at possible meeting of leaders Anticipation builds for final Supreme Court rulings MORE, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw Five memorable moments from Sarah Sanders at the White House MORE, U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerChinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead Trump says no discussion of extending deadline in Chinese trade talks MORE, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, and Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

“For retailers in U.S. border communities, this would ultimately mean workforce disruptions and reduced sales. American small businesses in those communities would face a disproportionate burden, as many smaller stores depend on legitimate travel across borders for up to half of their daily sales,” Shay wrote.

NRF is the latest trade group to weigh in on the issue, adding to the pressure on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Trump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Ocasio-Cortez claps back at Trump after he cites her in tweet rejecting impeachment MORE to back off his threats.

The Business Roundtable, a trade group representing major Americans businesses, sent a letter to the administration this week, while the National Association of Manufacturers released an economic study on how much businesses would lose if the border closes.

Trump told reporters on Tuesday that he is aware of the potential cost of closing the border and Kudlow later told reporters that the White House is exploring ways to mitigate the economic harm it could cause.