In reaction to the tens of thousands of migrants who continue to flee to the U.S. border from Central America, Trump has threatened to close the border, according to the LA Times. Trump’s Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, has confirmed that the President is not bluffing.
It is likely impossible to close the entire border, but Trump would shut down some or all of the entry ports. The ports process over 1 million people per day, along with $1.7 billion in commerce daily. A limited closure would be bad and a long-term closure would be devastating. Closures would affect local businesses, regional supply chains, farms, and automobile manufacturers.
A border closure would likely face legal challenges and it would require the participation of Mexico, which is unlikely.
On Monday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce warned of “severe economic harm on American families, workers, farmers, and manufacturers across the United States” if the border is closed.
“I imagine they probably do have the authority to close any particular port of entry temporarily,” said Leon Rodriguez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2014-2017. “Having said that, the political, logistical and economic consequences of doing that are potentially devastating.”
“If this were to go on for more than a few days, you could see some American factories shutting down temporarily until it's over,” said Mark Krikorian, the director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
The White House has another option. They could mitigate the economic impact by stopping passenger and pedestrian crossings but keeping rail and trick ports open.
Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said that the administration was considering closing ports of entry.
“If we have to close ports to take care of all of the numbers who are coming, we will do that. So it’s on the table,” she said.