Updated: Jul 2, 2019
Responding to shocked and stark warnings from administration officials and members of Congress from both parties, President Trump today walked back his plan to close the border with Mexico. Now, he says, Mexico has a year to stop refugees from entering the U.S.
Once again, President Trump's "shoot from the hip" mentality had threatened dire consequences, this time for the U.S. economy, experts warn; consequences that would be particularly difficult for some of his most loyal supporters to stomach.
""If they don't stop 'em, we're closing the border," Trump warned Friday. "They'll close it. And we'll keep it closed for a long time."
Trump's said he'll take that action if Mexico does not prevent illegal immigration into the U.S. But experts warned that action could shutdown the U.S. automobile industry within a week, throwing thousands of auto workers, many of whom were revved by Trump's "MAGA" promises, onto the unemployment lines.
"That's because every automaker operating an auto plant in the United States depends on parts imported from Mexico," said Kristin Dziczek, the vice president of industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research, CNN reported.
About 16 percent of all auto parts used in the United States originate in Mexico, including those sold in auto parts stores. Mostly all car models in America have Mexican parts, Dziczek said, and without those parts the industry would come to a screeching halt.
"You can't sell cars with missing pieces," she told CNN. "You've got to have them all. I see the whole industry shutdown within a week of a border closing."
Trump was warned by members of his own administration that closing the border would stall the U.S. economy. One official told CNN the effects would be "catastrophic" and cause "a whole world of hurt."
The auto industry imports $59.4 billion worth of parts from Mexico. It also exports $32.5 billion worth of parts from US automakers and parts manufacturers to assembly plants operating in Mexico. Those exports could be shutdown as well.
If cars are not being built and parts are not being sent to Mexico, workers will not be needed. It doesn't take an economic genius to figure that out.
But it's not just the auto industry that would crash and burn, and not just the economy at the border that would be disrupted.
NPR reported that closing the entire U.S. -Mexican border would also put the brakes on more than $1.6 billion worth of goods that cross back and forth every day, including 50 million pounds of fresh Mexican produce that now fills 100 warehouses in Nogales, Ariz.
One importer said the U.S. would run out of avocados in three weeks. Fresh tomatoes, peppers, melons and eggplant for the whole country would soon be in short supply. U.S. pork producers also would be hit, as 22 percent of U.S. pork exports go to Mexico.
"Probably over half of what most consumers put in their shopping bag when it comes to fresh produce, they would find reduced quantities and higher prices," said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.
""There's jobs that depend on moving goods back and forth every day. And if that's not moving, those people are laid off," Jungmeyer said. "That means those people are not able to keep the lights on in their own homes and to put groceries in their own refrigerators. So it gets really dicey, really quick."
Way to go, President Trump. Way to go.