Trump has Mexico and Central America on notice over border

President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE is done playing games with Mexico and Central American countries that enjoy financial benefits from their relationship with the United States while turning a blind eye as their citizens cross the southern border illegally. Customs and Border Protection estimates that more than 100,000 illegal immigrants crossed over in March, overwhelming the ability of officials to process them. Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson recently acknowledged, “By anyone’s definition, by any measure, right now we have a crisis at our southern border.”

“Mexico makes so much money from the United States,” President Trump said during an interview in Florida, before implying that the gravy train of American aid might soon be coming to an end. “Right now we have two big caravans coming up from Guatemala walking right through Mexico,” he added. “If they don’t stop them, we’re closing the border.”

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For a country that depends heavily on trade with the massive American economy, those are not words to be taken lightly. Every day, billions of dollars worth of goods are shipped across the border. Last September, more than $34 billion in freight crossed the border with Mexico in both directions, which is more than $1 billion worth of economic activity each day. Indeed, shutting down the southern border would severely impact the comparatively small Mexican economy. Food, cars, and other goods would sit in warehouses if ports of entry were to close.

In addition to putting economic pressure on Mexico, President Trump noted that the federal government also sends billions of dollars in aid each year to help Central American countries resolve their humanitarian and economic problems. He announced that this aid will be revoked since those countries have not been taking the appropriate steps to keep their citizens from leaving to illegally immigrate to the United States.

“Mexico is doing nothing to help stop the flow of illegal immigrants to our country. They are all talk and no action,” President Trump very notably pointed out to the world in a tweet last week. “Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have taken our money for years, and do nothing. The Dems don’t care, such bad laws. May close the southern border!”

Last December, the United States pledged $5.8 billion in aid as well as investment for strengthening government institutions and promoting economies in Central America, along with another $4.8 billion in aid for Mexico. The only thing Americans got in return for those generous taxpayer investments is more illegal immigration. It is disgraceful.

The American people have demonstrated patience and generosity with these countries for years, yet nothing has been done to stop their citizens from forming caravans with the explicit purpose of crossing the southern border illegally. President Trump is right to take a strong stance against this duplicitousness. If Central American countries do not start putting our aid dollars to good use by taking care of their own people and creating the sorts of economic opportunities that will give people a reason to stay, then there is no reason to keep sending them aid.

If Mexico will not do its part to control migrant caravans crossing its territory in plain sight, then President Trump will have no other choice but to close the border until the crisis is resolved. Closing the border and cutting off aid are drastic measures, but with more than 100,000 illegal immigrants crossing over last month, these are drastic times. The leaders of Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador must now decide whether condoning illegal immigration is really in their best interests.

Madison Gesiotto is an attorney and a commentator who serves with the advisory board of the Donald Trump campaign. She was an inauguration spokesperson and former Miss Ohio. She is on Twitter @MadisonGesiotto.