CEOs urge Trump officials not to close southern border

Chief executives of some of the largest U.S. corporations on Wednesday warned the Trump administration that closing the southern border would “severely damage” American businesses.

The Business Roundtable, a trade group representing major Americans businesses, urged officials to back off on President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? MORE’s plan to halt movement between the U.S and Mexico to stop migrants from crossing the southern border.

“Shutting down the U.S-Mexico border or slowing cross-border trade would severely damage the operations of American businesses and hurt American workers,” wrote Business Roundtable president Joshua Bolten in a Wednesday letter.

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“Closing the border would back up thousands of trucks, impact billions of dollars of goods each day, cripple supply chains and stall U.S. manufacturing and business activity.”

The letter was addressed to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump grapples with Turkey controversy Trump hypes China trade deal as new doubts emerge Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Trump to slap sanctions on Turkey for Syria offensive | Trump calls on Turkey to broker ceasefire | Pelosi, Graham seek deal on sanctions | Ex-Trump aide testifies in impeachment probe MORE, Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossDemocrats inch closer to issuing subpoenas for Interior, EPA records Overnight Energy: Dems subpoena Perry in impeachment inquiry | EPA to overhaul rules on lead contamination tests | Commerce staff wrote statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump Commerce staff drafted statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump's hurricane predictions MORE, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenTrump says acting Homeland Security chief McAleenan will step down Activists to demonstrate at ICE headquarters after Cameroonian immigrant dies in custody Ex-Citizenship and Immigration Services chief returns to DHS in different role MORE, U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerOn The Money: Economy adds 164K jobs in July | Trump signs two-year budget deal, but border showdown looms | US, EU strike deal on beef exports Chinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead MORE, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, and Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

The Business Roundtable is the latest trade group to express concerns about the economic impact of closing the U.S. border. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and several other business groups have joined politicians in both parties to condemn Trump’s proposal.

Halting movement and trade between the U.S. and Mexico could prevent produce from reaching American stores, cause prices for other goods to skyrocket, and derail supply chains that cross the southern border.

Close to 5 million American jobs depend on two-way trade with Mexico, according to a Business Roundtable study Bolten cited in his letter. Bolten also said that the U.S. and Mexico traded more than $610 billion in goods in 2018, and that more than $1.5 billion in goods cross the U.S.-Mexico border every day.

“Even the threat of a border closure injects significant uncertainty for American companies who depend on legal workers who cross the border each day to operate their businesses,” wrote Bolten, who served as White House Chief of Staff for former President George W. Bush.

Trump told reporters Tuesday that while he acknowledged the potential cost of closing the border, "security is more important to me than trade.”

"So, we're going to have a strong border, or we're going to have a closed border,” Trump added.

Kudlow told reporters Wednesday that while Trump is deciding whether to close the border, the White House is exploring ways to mitigate the economic harm it could cause.

“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 also insisted that securing the border was in the country’s economic interest as well, rejecting Trump’s notion that the U.S. must choose between prosperity and safety.

“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.”

Republican and Democratic lawmakers have been united against Trump’s potential closure of the border. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump-GOP tensions over Syria show signs of easing Trump again vetoes resolution blocking national emergency for border wall Trump invites congressional leaders to meeting on Turkey MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that closing the border would have a “potentially catastrophic economic impact." Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump defends 'crime buster' Giuliani amid reported probe Louisiana voters head to the polls in governor's race as Trump urges GOP support Trump urges Louisiana voters to back GOP in governor's race then 'enjoy the game' MORE (D-N.Y.) said it would be an “economic disaster.”