President Trump has backtracked on his threat to close the southern border, and is now offering a “oneyear warning” to Mexico.
About a week ago, Trump threatened to close the border if Mexico does not stop undocumented immigrants from coming into the United States. “The only thing, frankly, better and less drastic than closing the border is tariff the cars coming in, and I will do it,” Trump told reporters after a meeting with the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council on Thursday.
“I don’t play games…If the drugs don’t stop or aren’t largely stopped, we’re going to put tariffs on Mexico and products, in particular cars—the whole ballgame is cars. And if that doesn’t stop the drugs, we close the border.”
Official plans to close the border have not been announced. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters earlier this week that Trump “is not working on a specific timeline.”
In his latest walk-back in recent days, Trump told reporters he would try the “less drastic measure” before resorting to his standing threat.
“Mexico understands that we’re going to close the border or I’m going to tariff the cars. I’ll do one or the other, and probably settle for the tariffs,” Trump said at the White House.
It was a dramatic departure for Trump, who last week tweeted that he would close the border or large swaths of it this week unless Mexico immediately halted “ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States.”
Trump said at the time that he was “not kidding around,” and his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said in a television interview Sunday that it would take “something dramatic” for Trump not to close down the crossings.
Since then, however, White House advisers, American leaders in border cities and U.S. economists have warned that such a move would have enormous economic consequences on both sides of the border, interrupting supply chains and boosting U.S. consumer prices on everything from avocadoes to autos.
The U.S. and Mexico trade about $1.7 billion in goods daily, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which had said closing the border would be “an unmitigated economic debacle” that would threaten 5 million American jobs.
In recent days, Trump has appeared to put his threat on hold, praising the Mexican government for doing more to apprehend migrants traveling through the country from Central America.
On Thursday (April 4), Trump also threatened tariffs if Mexico doesn’t halt the flow of illegal drugs across the border, saying he’d give the country “a one year warning” to comply.