Kudlow: Trump administration looking at mitigating economic hit of possible border shutdown

The top White House economic adviser on Wednesday said that the Trump administration is looking at keeping truck lanes open and assessing other strategies to mitigate the potential economic hit should President TrumpDonald John TrumpPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump FBI identifies Pensacola shooter as Saudi Royal Saudi Air Force second lieutenant Trump calls Warren 'Pocahontas,' knocks wealth tax MORE close part or all of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Larry Kudlow, chairman of the National Economic Council, told reporters that the administration is looking at ways to keep freight lanes open to accommodate trade should the border be closed.

He downplayed Trump's suggestion a day earlier that security is more important than trade, arguing the two are intertwined.

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“It’s a hard thing. Issues about individuals and groups getting to work, I understand how hard that is. Tourism, I understand that,” Kudlow said.

“The trucking lanes and the freight lanes and all the supply chain stuff is really the key,” he added.

Kudlow said Trump has not yet made a decision on whether to shutter the border. He acknowledged that he has advised the president on the possible economic effects should Trump make good on the threat, but would not elaborate on specific data. 

He said the administration requires help from Mexico and the U.S. Congress to make headway on the issue of border security. Asked how shuttering the border would spur Congress to take action, Kudlow suggested the action would underscore Trump’s commitment to addressing immigration issues. 

“It’s an exclamation point,” he said. “It shows his seriousness. This is such an important issue.” 

Trump last week threatened to close down the southern border if Mexico did not take steps to curb the flow of migrants into the U.S. He has since backed off that pledge, telling reporters on Tuesday that the decision to close the border is dependent on reaching a deal with Congress to pass stricter immigration laws.

Lawmakers in both parties have expressed concerns about how closing the border could impact the economy, as more than $1 billion in goods flow back and forth between the two countries daily.

Trump on Tuesday indicated he was unconvinced by the economic argument. While he acknowledged the likely negative effects, he said, "Security is more important to me than trade."

Kudlow stressed Wednesday that he's in agreement with the president's agenda at the border, citing recent statistics that show a surge in apprehended migrants. But he differed from Trump on the notion that the U.S. would have to sacrifice its economic gains for border security.

“I don’t think it’s one or the other,” Kudlow said. “In an important way the problems of border security in addition to the humanitarian problems, the drug trafficking problems, they’re economic issues, too.”