- President Donald Trump has threatened to close the border between the US and Mexico.
- This would likely have severe economic consequences.
- Big states along the border and industrial states in the Midwest that rely heavily on cross-border supply chains could be especially hard hit by a disruption in trade between the two countries.
President Donald Trump has threatened to close the border between the United States and Mexico, claiming concerns over the number of Central American migrants entering the US through that area in the last several months.
Economic experts have warned that shuttering the flows of people and goods across the border could have devastating consequences, ranging from shortages of produce like avocados to a collapse of the US auto industry caused by the disruption of the tightly integrated international auto parts supply chain.
Aside from the billions of dollars in goods traded, closing the border could have other severe effects. Cities along the border like El Paso, TX, and San Diego, CA, are socially and economically intertwined with their counterparts in Mexico – which is why cutting the ability of people to move freely across the border could lead to chaos.
Shutting down ports of entry might even exacerbate the situation Trump is trying to address by making illegal border crossings more common for migrants barred from legal routes.
In recent days, there has been pushback from members of the administration and Border Patrol officials against a border shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned of a “catastrophic economic impact” from such a move, according to Politico.
Trump himself appeared to waver on the plan during a press event Tuesday, acknowledging that there could be economic damage from a border shutdown and pressing Congress to act on his immigration proposals, according to Vox.
However, the president tweeted on Wednesday morning that he is still considering a shutdown if that doesn’t happen, saying “Congress must get together and immediately eliminate the loopholes at the Border! If no action, Border, or large sections of Border, will close.”
If the administration does end up closing the US-Mexico border, shutting down a significant portion of trade between the two countries, certain states where that trade makes up a big part of the economy could be hit especially hard.
The US Census Bureau publishes annual figures for the total amount of goods imported and exported in each US state and DC. The Bureau breaks out import and export volumes for the 25 biggest trading partners for each state.
Big state economies that border Mexico exported a large volume of goods to that country in 2017, the most recent year for which Census data is available. Texas had nearly $US98 billion in exports, and California had nearly $US27 billion. While it doesn’t border Mexico, auto industry supply chains contribute to Michigan’s $US12.5 billion in exports in that year.
Meanwhile, states with smaller economies and that are geographically further away from Mexico exported fewer goods. Hawaii’s goods exports to Mexico in 2017 came to only about $US1.4 million, and Alaska exported just $US21 million in goods.
Here’s each state’s total 2017 export volume to Mexico, according to the Census Bureau:
Imports show a similar picture. Texas imported nearly $US90 billion in goods from Mexico in 2017, while Michigan imported about $US53 billion and California about $US46 billion. Meanwhile, smaller northern states like Montana, Vermont, and Maine imported much less from Mexico:
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