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 Trump’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.

{mosads}“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 Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, 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 McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that closing the border would have a “potentially catastrophic economic impact.” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said it would be an “economic disaster.”

Tags Chuck Schumer Donald Trump Kirstjen Nielsen Mitch McConnell Robert Lighthizer Steven Mnuchin Wilbur Ross

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