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Close the Border? Comes with Risks, But Worth Considering

Posted on Tuesday, April 2, 2019
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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147 Comments
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What do you know?  President Trump is considering closing the southwest border, as an estimated 100,000 illegal aliens entered in March.  Declaring the “national emergency” – or a tipping point requiring executive action – permits him to reprogram money to the wall – but walls take time.  Closing the border, by contrast, is a fast act.  It comes with risks.

Mexico is – and has been – a good and bad neighbor.  On one hand, Mexico is our third largest agricultural export market, buying nearly $20 billion in US agricultural products, from soybeans and dairy to beef, fish and lumber.  Meanwhile, we are Mexico’s largest trading partner, buying roughly 80 percent of their exports.  We also cooperate on law enforcement, regional security and in a host of other ways.

That said, of late, Mexico could be doing more to protect their southern and northern borders from criminal and refugee inflows. By protecting their southern border more effectively from Central American caravans, drug and human traffickers, they would be – in effect – be protecting our southern border more effectively. 

President Trump obviously feels the Mexican Government can do more – and so can the Central American Governments.  He has summarily cut off aid to parts of Central America, which may or may not produce the outcome he intends.  He is threatening to close the US-Mexican border, if Mexico does not lean-in and help more to stem the flow of northern migrants.  

Historical perspective is often lost, but helps in such moments. Presidents Reagan, Nixon and Johnson each closed the US-Mexico border, to good effect.  Future threats to close it were taken seriously; bilateral relations were not irreconcilably damaged.  

Responding to Reagan and Nixon, Mexican authorities recognized the US was serious, and worked harder to coordinate on drug trafficking issues.  Both presidents also engaged their diplomatic teams – intensely – at the same time.  Johnson closed the border for security reasons after the Kennedy assassination.  So, this is not new.

Several questions top the moment.  Does President Trump have legal authority to do this?  How would it be operationalized?  What trade, diplomatic and security impact would the move have? How long would it last?  What is the best outcome?  And how do we get there?

In order, answers.  The President has constitutional and statutory authority to close our ports of entry.  Under Article II powers and 8 U.S.C, 1185, the President can close US borders.  The law reads in relevant part, under Section 212 (f), which dates to 1952:  “Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”  So, the President has the authority.

How would he operationalize the move?  A combination of military and civilian law enforcement plus-ups would help.  New personnel – a surge – could occur at a crossing, half a dozen, or all of them.  Of course, realism is needed.   Trafficking corridors – tracts between points of entry – are theoretically closed, so personnel would go to official crossings.  We do have military personnel for the surge, but only for a limited period.   If the goal is serious Mexican collaboration to help stop human and drug trafficking, diplomatic efforts must occur behind the scenes, with intensity.

Can President Trump use a trade lever to secure a security advantage, as elsewhere?  Yes, he could.  He certainly could – but with risks.  Mexico might not respond in a constructive way.  If the border closing was pervasive and extended, their people would suffer, and so would we – although not as much. 

Reduced US-Mexico trade would – at least nominally – hit US businesses (especially agriculture) and – likely on higher prices – US consumers.  True, impact in the US would be modest by comparison to impact on Mexico, but Mexican authorities – if not brought around fast – would blame the US for political fallout on their side.  Political effects in the US would be a crap-shoot, positive in near term, negative over time.

Count on court challenges, on sundry legal bases, from disaffected businesses to political actors, and ardent anti-Trump activists.  Those suits would cut both ways, reinforcing the President’s resolve, elevating his commitment to border security, but perhaps disadvantaging him with moderates and independent voters.  Of course, he is likely to encounter a wild hare – some irreverent, indignant 9th Circuit judge, ready to reverse policy on a squirrelly doctrine.

As one thoughtful observer noted, “in any contest of wills between the president and the lower courts, in the end the Supreme Court would likely underscore the proposition that no sitting judge is reasonably poised to substitute his or her judgment for that of the chief executive in matters paramount to the safety and security of our country,” but that might take time.  Thus, “the more interesting question is what would happen between any injunction issued or sustained at the district or circuit court level and a ruling by the Supreme Court?”  Who knows? 

All this comes back to diplomatic, security and political calculus.  Our border is sacred, being violated, and needs to be protected.  Our way of life is affected by law-breaking illegal entrants, some of whom have claims to asylum, most of whom do not.  Our economy is the toast of the town, so many want in – or at least access to our entitlement programs.  What is to be done?

The border problem is big, real, and vexing.  The political impact of closing the US-Mexican border would be significant and immediate – for both countries.  Nevertheless, closing it might send a profound signal.  Disruptive impact on Mexico would be bigger than on the US, even if at a price.  But the outcome sought would be lost, without aggressive, backroom diplomacy. 

President Trump should have a list of objectives, including aggressive Mexican policing of southern and northern borders, higher levels of cooperation between federal law enforcement agencies, tailored information sharing, offers of law enforcement assistance, attention to legal and humanitarian issues, and outcomes to make the border closing meaningful.  

In short:  The potential for a border closing – and actual shutdown – could be effective tools for leveraging Mexican cooperation, coordination, commitment and results, but the closing alone will not do it.  Diplomacy – together with an eye on trade effects – is needed. 

Three presidents have done it.  Closing the border would generate a short window for intensely rethinking border concerns, law enforcement cooperation, diplomatic relations, and the security relationship between the US and Mexico.  A prolonged border closing would be a self-inflicted wound, affecting both economies adversely, taking more time to heal than to inflict and endure. 

The best course might be this:  The threat of closing is real, and President Trump is understood to mean what he says.  Nevertheless, our two countries have a great deal in common, an enormous amount – shared cultural emphasis on faith and family to hard work, horrific hurricane seasons, drug and human trafficking conundrums.  The best way out of this deep ditch is to cooperate.  The best time to do so is now. 

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Edward Curtis
Edward Curtis
5 years ago

I will gladly pay more for fruit and vegetables in exchange for a safer border – No Brainer!

Buddy Saunders
Buddy Saunders
5 years ago

Yes, close the border. My wife and I back Trump on this 100%.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
5 years ago

I say Yes & allow Legit products into US from Mexico, Screen incoming personnel into US IF any.
Otherwise seal off.
Feel for those who commutte X border to work.
Project outcomes of closing on industries, See Long term & short Term
& same for Mexico.
On + side Mexico makes govt reforms during time.
Deter cartels??
End drug tunnels?
More can be done on Mexico side.

Nick Vaseliv
Nick Vaseliv
5 years ago

Yes, close the border. Trump is doing what should have been done years ago by Congress to avert this situation. Their approval was at 12%. We have a definite swamp in Washington. This comes from a legal immigrant who became a Naturalized American citizen and proud of it !

Chuck Whieldon
Chuck Whieldon
5 years ago

I read earlier this morning that DHS is considering closing the border to foot traffic while allowing trucks to pass through. This would address the business impact. I would personally like him to declare Mexico off-limits to American tourists. That wouldn’t hurt us at all but would cripple Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, and Cancun among others.

Katherine Teissere
Katherine Teissere
5 years ago

Congress has left President Trump no other alternative. The Democrats and maybe some RINOs are in complete denial that there is a crisis. Perhaps those deniers could go to the border and help with the medical needs and change diapers?

Phyllis A.
Phyllis A.
5 years ago

I cannot believe what is happening in our beloved country. People transgressing our laws and Congress – both Demos and Reps – do not care. How disgusting. Ship them all to where they all live and see how they like it. Never happen. Freebies galore and illicit citizenship soon. Yep, the Demos will be in power forever now as soon as they get them citizenship. Oh, wait, some are proposing that illegals should vote so they do not even have to bother with citizenship rights. As I’ve said before, Orwell’s 1984 comes to pass. BUILD THAT WALL!!!!

Michlle
Michlle
5 years ago

I agree to closing the border. Also, I think they should STOP entitlement to illegals no matter what their situation. If they know they will not receive any type of benefit they might change their mind about coming here. We need to stop with the freebies.

Jack
Jack
5 years ago

The illegals crossing the borders are a worse threat than the drugs. Illegal drugs don’t vote. I believe the increased border crossings are a direct threat to our election process. They come here with nothing but their hands stuck out and the “GimmeDats” want to feed, house them and provide their every need. All they have to do is vote Democrat. They are leaving a socialist society to come here and set up another one. Give them a 30 day work visa and at the end of 30 days they are not able to make it on their own, send them back with the chance for trying 1 more time. It is utterly BS for these people to show up over here and expect the American taxpayers to provide for them.

Linda
Linda
5 years ago

What most people do not consider is the FACT that mexico depend more on us that we do them. Someone made the comment that we would run short of fruit and vegetables here without their trade. Well, we have several states that produce fruit and vegetables in abundance why not BUY AMERICAN??? Texas, Florida, California are three of the main growers I am speaking of. Shouldn’t we consider buying AMERICAN goods FIRST??? Besides if the border is closed for a while, it will be the mexican growers who suffer and possibly by the suffering raise up and DO SOMETHING about their plight. Also, the problem we have in some tainted vegetables will drop as well.

Gary
Gary
5 years ago

Mexico is doing nothing to prevent this mass of illegals from coming to our border so the President should close the border until the wall is built.

Ev
Ev
5 years ago

If immigrants are coming into our country because of our entitlement program, why don’t we make that program undesirable?

Lloyd1954
Lloyd1954
5 years ago

How about jailing the enablers. Pretty easy to see who is encouraging this and arrest them immediately as the come back into the country. Sell everything they have to support their new friends.

Chuck P
Chuck P
5 years ago

It’s too bad that congress could not get up (especially the Democrats) and support the President so he doesn’t have to do this on his own. It’s no wonder the uninformed and uninterested think the President is a dictator. He is getting no help from the left. Those jerks are more interested in perusing “investigations” against the President. Please do something to earn your salary! Thanks to all the Republicans who are trying to help the President

Morbious
Morbious
5 years ago

Are we the only country in the world that needs to be seen as ‘nice’? I say close the border first. If that doesnt work, put an embargo on remittances. For those that dont know, remittences are this: money sent back from here either earned or scammed from the welfare state we so generously provide to all comers. It used to be said of the soviet union that they only understand power, not friendly persuasion. The current socialist president of mexico is likely to require more demonstrations of resolve than his predecessors.

Bobby
Bobby
5 years ago

I live in west Texas, in the Permian basin and I’ve read all sorts of comments on the impact closing the border would have on oil industry ( we export oil to Mexico) produce, and other things that will be impacted! I think an emediate closure to all foot traffic , and automobile traffic at all ports of entry would do huge amounts of good! If that doesn’t work, then close to all traffic! We have survived in the past, we can survive now! Mexico must be forced to take responsibility for their part in this mess! Stop the influx at their southern border and help us stop it here! If they secured their southern border, a great deal of our problem would be solved!
MAGA, BUILD THE WALL, SECURE THE BORDER!

David Huff
David Huff
5 years ago

Imports from Mexico take away manufacturing jobs. While at it, immigrants from Mexico need to be taxed for sending money back home. That would be one way to pay for the wall.

TomB
TomB
5 years ago

Since 1986 our immigration laws and border security have been neglected. Now everyone wants a “pain-free” quick-fix. Close the border, build the wall, stop giving money to Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala.

Michael Javick
Michael Javick
5 years ago

Just do it…STOP THE ILLEGAL INVASION OF MY AMERICA ! RET US ARMY

Michael Javick
Michael Javick
5 years ago

President Eisenhower removed mega amounts of illegal Mexicans so the returning troops would have jobs–FACT–WHY CAN’T WE DO THAT?

Susan Jobson
Susan Jobson
5 years ago

If it’s the only way to stop these illegals from entering our country then shut the border down

Garland
Garland
5 years ago

Close it

Tomi Prashner
Tomi Prashner
5 years ago

The negatives to closing the border are many, but hopefully Trump will prevail and take the necessary action to stop the influx of migrants into our country. We are saturated with illegal migrants receiving $billions of free entitlements (food stamps, free medical, housing, and the list keeps growing), The cost to taxpayers in Texas alone is $11Billion and $23 Billion to California. These free entitlements are what draws the thousands to our country. Trump has cut aid to the three countries with the largest number of their people seeking asylum here. Maybe its time to stop the free entitlements to the illegals crossing our borders.

Arturo Hernandez
Arturo Hernandez
5 years ago

It is sad that our country has come to this. For decades our government has tried to get this business of illegal immigrants solved but they were all afraid of losing their political careers, in other words they did not have the galls that our new president has. The democrats only want power to follow their socialist agenda. We need to build that wall, fix the immigration laws that are best for our country and pick the ones we want coming in and not what other countries dictate to us. For our country to keep prospering we need to keep this president, show the democrats and the republicans that they need to support him. I know he could be a little bit overwhelming. Going around the world kissing everyone’s butt and telling it how it is may not be presidential (as some people would say) but I do not care because that was the problem with the former presidents, especially Obama. Stay on track Mr. President, do what you have to do to keep making America great again.

Hdrydr
Hdrydr
5 years ago

Mexican’t is NOT our friend. We’ve got their worst of the worst ex-citizens, they let the dregs of humanity come across their borders to invade us, they allow drug cartels to proliferate there and smuggle drugs into America, and we’re their “friend”? Sounds like we’re their enemy.
Close the border, stop all trade, stop all monetary subsidies to them. Watch how fast they stop all of their “friendly gestures” and get the picture…

Jan13
Jan13
5 years ago

Definitely, close the border and put our military there. They are in foreign countries protecting borders, about time they protect ours.
If all these bleeding hearts love the illegals so much, they can take care of them, I don’t want to. With the money spent to support illegals, we could build ten walls.

MARLENE LANGERT
MARLENE LANGERT
5 years ago

You know how, when you are trying to decide about something many of us make lists of the pros and cons? Well , in my opinion, the cons of closing the boarder are nothing compared to the pros. I feel only a real weakling would object. We do not need weaklings. We need strong Americans who realize how strong President Trump is and stand behand him. CLOSE THE BOARDER ASAP.

Bill TX3
Bill TX3
5 years ago

US must take action to stop the illegal immigration. The astronomical long term costs to our country clearly justifies the short term cost of closing the border. President Trump has been the only one in Federal government taking decisive action to correct our country’s problems. The Democrats squabble, the Republicans slumber, and the socialist are concerned about farting cows. Close the border and allow no unauthorized access to the US.

Herb Lieberman
Herb Lieberman
5 years ago

When did it become Mexico’s obligation to Protect USA Borders??

MariaRose
MariaRose
5 years ago

I was just reading about how upset some people are going to be because if the border is closed we will run out of supplies avocado in 3 weeks time. If doing that gets a reaction, from these self-centered idiots, so be it. This border entry problem has been going on for too long. Why has our entry program become so lenient? Unfortunately, we need to become stringent in order to create some order. I am all for whatever it will take to create this control of our borders.
If someone is complaining about this, then let them open their residence to these masses and let them take care of them. We do need changes made to the immigration process, perhaps if all those liberal rich Americans have to start getting visas and carrying identification papers for international travel instead of just paying money, they might understand the need to vet everyone who enters through the borders of the USA. If you have the right papers, the tightening of entry at the borders is not a hassle. It is time to stop the flow of illegal entry and end the reign of those who have made this a money operation.

Robert M McLeester
Robert M McLeester
5 years ago

Close the border if that’s what it takes to keep these illegal aliens out!

Big Al
Big Al
5 years ago

Making it begin to sound like climate change/global warming. Since there are real problems, fix them!

Wayne D Peterkin
Wayne D Peterkin
5 years ago

Close the border. The stinking Democrats are worried more about their guacamole supply that they are about the thousands of Americans dying from illegal drugs coming across that border every single year, and some of those deaths are kids. The fact is that the loss of Mexican produce would be an inconvenience, but the producers of the produce stand to lose a whole lot more than we do. Close that border and I suspect we will see these caravans from Central America no longer welcome passing through Mexico on their way north. Obviously, the wall needs built as quickly as possible and it needs to be a very secure barrier. The cost of not building it far, far exceeds the cost of building it, so that is not an argument against it. Sadly, that takes time. But closing that border will get some quick cooperation from Mexico to help stem the tide.

Concerned
Concerned
5 years ago

“The best way out of this deep ditch is to cooperate. The best time to do so is now.” This goes not only for both the US and Mexican Governments, but also for the two political parties. If the Democrat Progressive Socialist Communist (DPSC) Party would be willing to tackle this, first by admitting a problem exists, and then start working with the other side, maybe, just maybe all of America can find a way of out this deep ditch. For sure something needs to be done now! So get to work by looking for some agreement on small things; i.e., Remove the Anchor Baby thing, Modify Chain Migration to immediate family members only, Treat all illegal immigrants from countries in Central and South America, the exact same way as we do for illegal immigrants from Mexico and Canada. Please do something about the southern border and illegal immigration. We may need comprehensive immigration reform but we need to take some baby steps together to get where we need to be. I think this can not be done. I say close the border except for identified legal entry points, and just push them back across the border at all other locations. Each day I care less and less about the people involved, I talking about the illegals, less about our Congressional members who deny reality, have their heads in some dark hole, and care more and more about our citizens.

chaly
chaly
5 years ago

Of course closing the border comes with risks! What do you do in life that doesn’t but we are putting our citizens in danger by not protecting them the best we can. Then if you try to sue because some loony cities go the sanctuary path the courts are dishonest enough to say your right to freedom is ‘not guaranteed’ anymore. The only reason for protests of this wall is so the DNC’ommunists can get illegal voters to keep them in office like they have the last 50 years! This should be an admission by the democrats that none of their policy’s work. So, communism dos not work!

ronald moreck
ronald moreck
5 years ago

Close the boarder, it would cost much more to keep illegal aliens than we would lose in trade. close it up tight

Ang
Ang
5 years ago

CLOSE THE BORDER! It should have been done a long time ago.

Al Perpente
Al Perpente
5 years ago

this congress has the worst people i have ever seen. too many personal agendas and not doing what we voted them in office. they need to listen more to the people and not pelosi and schummer. TRUMP—stop talking and tweeting you need to do more and stop paying attention to all the bs and detractors. SHUT THE BORDER NOW….FULL STEAM AHEAD. you are there to act and not make friends sink the dumbocrats and the turncoat rebublicans. get them voted out office.

Al Perpente
Al Perpente
5 years ago

trump started like a house on fire but looks like he is running out of gas. time to refuel.how about getting the people responsible for all the lying, false testimony, false charges,and REAL collusion get investigated and charged !!! less talk and tweeting and more action !

Tom Leavitt
Tom Leavitt
5 years ago

Great Ideas on closing the Border !!!

Dean Eickman
Dean Eickman
5 years ago

I don’t buy grocery products from mexico,i have heard about what they use to fertilize their produce and rumors are enough for me.

robert york
robert york
5 years ago

yes close the border. make them come the right way

robert york
robert york
5 years ago

yes close the border

Rick
Rick
5 years ago

President Trump wouldn’t have to close the border if congress would do it’s job.

Sherri Bowen
Sherri Bowen
5 years ago

Close the border!!!

Martin
Martin
5 years ago

We stopped all immigration in 1920 threw 1965. Commerce was not stopped. So why not do the same now. Time to close ALL immigration.
If this is a not manufactured crises then all who say it is needs to let at least hundred or more move in and live with them and pay for their keep. and when their relatives are let in they have to support them too.

Martin
Martin
5 years ago

Time to do what FDR did to the Japanese and put ALL these illegals in camps until they appear in court. It would be cheaper to have them in these camps and then we would also know where they are.
This be more legal to do than what was done to the Japanese because the Japanese were legal citizens,

Bob
Bob
5 years ago

Stop talking about it. Shut the border now. So what if fruit and veggies cost more. Better than supporting illegal aliens!

Tom
Tom
5 years ago

Politicians on both sides as well as chamber of commerce are beating the drums and trying to spread the message that it would cost billions of dollars as well as jobs, but the citizens of America is paying the real cost of illegal immigration, deaths due to drugs , illegals keeping our wages low, and our tax dollars supporting the cost of support for them, if we cut the benifits off and e-varify mandatory for all jobs in America then they would self deport, so by all means close the border and punish the businesses that are exploiting the Mexican people with shipping American jobs there in the first place

Timothy L Birmingham
Timothy L Birmingham
5 years ago

Close the border and we will really see how we can ship products by sea or air. Business as usual has to stop. This issue is more important than anything else right now.

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