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Residents Of Texas Express Mixed Feelings, As U.S. President Donald Trump Threatens Of Border Closure

For years, American businesses have restructured their manufacturing so that many products are made on both sides of the border. Border closures could have far-reaching impacts on a wide range of businesses.

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Cargo trucks lineup to cross to the United States near the US-Mexico border at the Cordova-Americas International Bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico, on April 4, 2019. Pixabay

This week U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on Mexico or close its border with the United States entirely “if the drugs don’t stop or largely stop.”

The Trump administration has made strengthening border security a centerpiece of its domestic policy, even though public opinion polls show Americans are roughly split over substantially expanding a wall along the border.

In El Paso, Texas, a border town across the U.S.-Mexico border from Ciudad Juárez, many residents also express mixed feelings about a border closure that would directly impact their lives more than those of most Americans.

Last year, 7 million pedestrians crossed the U.S. border at the El Paso international bridges to either work or study, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Vehicles with passengers reached the 22 million mark.

Vehicles from Mexico and the U.S. approach a border crossing in El Paso, Texas, April 1, 2019.
Vehicles from Mexico and the U.S. approach a border crossing in El Paso, Texas, April 1, 2019. VOA

Cars, classes and tourists

For graphic design student Paula Lopez, who goes to school in El Paso but lives in Ciudad Juarez, shutting down the pedestrian crossing could affect her education.

“If they close the border, I will have to miss my classes and I am allowed a maximum of five absences,” Lopez said.

Oscar Lira, an intensive care nurse at a medical center in El Paso, says a potential closure would affect people’s health and job security.

“In fact, the treatments would be worse for everyone,” Lira said, adding that a lot of health workers in El Paso live in Ciudad Juarez, which means if they can’t come to work, the extra services would fall to those on the U.S. side.

Even local Republican supporters of the president have expressed concerns. Adolpho Telles, El Paso County Republican Party chairman, was “very concerned” that even a partial closure of the border could hurt the Texas border town.

“People keep joking that we’re going to run out of avocados here in a couple weeks … but that’s not the important part. They [people living across the border] make wire harnesses, component parts for vehicles. They come over here. They ship them east, and then on the East Coast to use, to finish the manufacturing cycle,” Telles said.

Residents of Anapra, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, gather next to the border fence during a prayer with priests and bishops from Mexico and the United States on Feb. 26, 2019.
Residents of Anapra, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, gather next to the border fence during a prayer with priests and bishops from Mexico and the United States on Feb. 26, 2019. VOA

For years, American businesses have restructured their manufacturing so that many products are made on both sides of the border. Border closures could have far-reaching impacts on a wide range of businesses.

Roger Noriega of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington-based policy research group, said the president’s closure threat sows doubt among regional partners and businesses. And he says it remains unclear how it would work.

Also Read: Research Revels, Even Consuming Alcohol Once A Day Raises Risk of Heart Stroke

“If it were absolutely dire emergencies, conceivably, you could say that people can enter … [but] “you need people moving across that border for commercial reasons for tourism, really, in both directions,” Noriega said.

Telles, however, still agrees “there’s going to have to be some closures in certain areas.”

He notes U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are “stretched thin,” and that closures in certain areas could mean reassigning some officers “so they can get better control of the areas and control [of] the people that are trying to come across the border.” (VOA)

Next Story

Economy to Overcome Other Issues in 2020, says Trump

President Donald Trump is hoping that simple message in 2020 will help foil his eventual Democratic Party challenger. 

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President Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump attends a Keep America Great Rally at the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, U.S. VOA

“It’s the economy, stupid” has been a catchphrase of U.S. presidential politics since the 1992 campaign, when Bill Clinton unseated incumbent George H.W. Bush. Nearly three decades later, U.S. President Donald Trump is hoping that simple message in 2020 will help foil his eventual Democratic Party challenger.

Trump — in tweets, at political rallies and in remarks to reporters — constantly emphasizes the performance of the U.S. economy, stock market surges, low unemployment rates and his tax cuts to boast he is doing a great job as president.

Economists and political analysts are divided on whether that message will enable the incumbent to stay in office beyond January 2021.

Culture war, partisan split

Ever since Clinton, “we’ve all kind of assumed that should be true. And I think for the most part, it is,” said Ryan McMaken, senior editor and economist at the Mises Institute, a politics and economics research group in Alabama. He cautioned, though, that Trump finds himself on one side of a culture war that his predecessors did not have to confront, as well as a deep partisan divide on consumer confidence.

Walmart Supercentre
Balo Balogun labels items in preparation for a holiday sale at a Walmart Supercenter, in Las Vegas. Black Friday once again kicks off the start of the holiday shopping season. But it will be the shortest season since 2013 because of Thanksgiving falling on the fourth Thursday in November, the latest possible date it can be. VOA

Policy analyst James Pethokoukis at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, a public policy research group, also is cautious about the economy prevailing over all other issues.

“Just having a strong economy is not going to guarantee you re-election,” he said. “People often point back to the 2000 election, which occurred after a decade of tremendous economic growth any way you want to measure it — gross domestic product, jobs and wage growth. And yet, [Clinton’s vice president] Al Gore still lost that election to George W. Bush.”

McMaken questioned whether voters in key swing states — such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio — who cast ballots for Trump in 2016 were experiencing enough of the touted economic performance to vote again for the president.

Overall, however, “it’s not a bad economy to run on if you’re Donald Trump,” said Pethokoukis.

Trump, said to have concerns about the direction of the economy ahead of next November’s election, will likely push for more tax cuts, passage of a renegotiated North American trade pact and continued pressure on the country’s central banking system, the Federal Reserve, to lower interest rates.

A LB Steel LLC's employee manufactures a component
A LB Steel LLC’s employee manufactures a component for new Amtrak Acela trains built in partnership with Alstom in Harvey, Illinois, U.S. VOA

Trouble ahead?

There are rumblings of economic storm clouds on the horizon. The impact can be seen in Trump’s trade war with China, which has hurt U.S. farmers and raised prices for consumer goods. It’s also reflected in the Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Index, an underperforming U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index and a ballooning record national debt, in addition to the worrying level of money owed to creditors by middle-class Americans.

“We’ve actually been in a sort of a manufacturing recession, seen a shrinkage of factory jobs, the exact kinds of jobs that I’m sure that people voting for the president thought would be a lot better now,” said Pethokoukis.

So far, none of this has prompted a major stock market correction.

“There seems to be a lot of adaptations in the markets to Trump’s America. That may work to his advantage,” said the Mises Institute’s McMaken.

Analysts note a lack of emphasis on economic platforms so far by the leading Democratic U.S. presidential candidates seeking to oust Trump next year.

But such a platform is likely to be touted when the opposition party holds its convention next July in Milwaukee and picks its campaign ticket. Pethokoukis suggested the Democratic Party should devise a plan with a goal to boost American worker productivity, which has flatlined for years.

The great divide

McMaken pointed out that the widening chasm between the well-off and those struggling economically in the United States makes Trump vulnerable — something emphasized by left-leaning Democratic presidential contenders such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Donald Trump says the economy isn't doing well
Tents and tarps erected by homeless people are shown along sidewalks and streets in the skid row area of downtown Los Angeles, California, U.S. VOA

“On the ground level, I would say just in general, the economy isn’t doing as well,” concluded McMaken.

ALSO READ: Greed For Power May Demolish The Democracy

Amid an impeachment drive by the Democrats, Trump is repeatedly hammering on a specific message to those questioning his suitability for office while being impressed with the performance of their pension accounts during his presidency.

“Love me or hate me, you’ve got to vote for me,” Trump said at a rally in New Hampshire in August, warning that Americans’ investments portfolios would go “down the tubes” if he lost next year’s election. (VOA)