As President Donald Trump has renewed his threats to shut down the southern U.S. border, the business community is worried about the impact such measure would cause. But regardless of the chaos a shutdown would create, trade is already being hurt with partial closings in entry ports along the border.
Last Friday, Trump tweeted that he would be “CLOSING the Border, or large sections of the Border” this coming week if Mexico does not crack down on illegal border crossings. Although the deadline was new, Trump has threatened to shut down the southern border before.
Soon after the tweet, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents were reassigned to attend migrants seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border; therefore, many lanes were closed affecting the cargo section, pedestrians, and car drivers.
The cargo section registered long wait times and many trucks could not cross the border.
INDEX data shows the most affected region was El Paso and Ciudad Juarez where at least 300 trucks were stranded just on Friday, and just 19 more trucks crossed the border during the weekend.
The nightmare continued on early Monday, with at least 490 trucks facing crossing times of up to seven hours. The Juarez/El Paso region handles at least 2,500 trucks daily, both ways.
Pedestrians reported a two-hour wait time to cross the border while drivers spent up to five hours on the ports of entry to be in the U.S.
“I’ve received several calls from concerned business people today regarding potential U.S.-MX border closure. The mere threat is already adversely impacting business. Uncertainty is the enemy of investment and job growth,” tweeted Borderplex CEO Jon Barela.
Other ports of entry registered a similar situation. Index data shows the wait times in Nogales reached four hours on Monday, while CBP sent a warning in Ciudad Acuña that this situation can worsen because the agency reassigned several agents to other duties such as taking care of migrants. In Tijuana, wait times were not affected.
“Since coming to Congress, I have voiced that the U.S. should work with our neighbors to the south to secure Mexico’s southern border. Threatening Mexico with a full border closure is just another rash decision, reflective of the president’s obsession with partisan talking points and campaign rallies,” said Congressman Vicente Gonzalez in a statement.
INDEX expressed its concern in a public statement and said this situation is still manageable, but it can generate problems to companies on both sides of the border if it lasts more days.
“It is vital for the sector and the Mexican economy to soon reach a consensus where the focus is immigration,” the association stated. “We agree to do all the necessary steps with the U.S government of the United States of America to adopt the necessary measures and maintain in a firm position, to avoid the obstruction or closure of the ports of entry in the northern region of the country.”
Nancy Gonzalez / MexicoNow