Merchants along the border are showing signs of fear over President Donald Trump’s threat to shut down the border.
A caravan of nearly 3,000 Honduran migrants made its way through Guatemala on its way to the United States. Thursday, attention turned to Mexico after Trump threatened to close the U.S.-Mexico border if authorities there fail to stop the migrants heading north.
Experts say it’s a nearly unthinkable move that would disrupt hundreds of thousands of legal freight, vehicle and pedestrian crossings each day. With less than three weeks before the Nov. 6 midterm elections, Trump seized on the migrant caravan to make border security a political issue and energize his Republican base.
“I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught – and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!” Trump tweeted, adding that he blamed Democrats for what he called “weak laws!”
Thousands of people from Juarez cross the border everyday to buy products from vendors in Downtown El Paso. Shutting down the border could mean businesses would have to shut down as well, local business owners told ABC-7.
Moises Bautista is a vendor who trades with businesses along border that rely on the purchasing power of Juarez residents.
Bautista said he has seen the ups and downs of the economy there. A Trump threat to shut down the border would impact his pocket, the man said.
“Just slow down commerce, you know. Last year was slow for us, the retail business. It’s been picking up, so it might slow down again,” said Bautista.
Bautista predicts if travel from Juarez slows to a trickle, cash registers could stop ringing.
“Well, if they don’t come over, you know, I guess the shops would go away. Even smaller vendors on the streets selling small things, they would go away too.”
UTEP Political Science Professor, Irasema Coronado, agrees with Bautista. She is also concerned about the threat to use the military to enforce immigration law.
“It’s a wrong move. The president is not a dictator. The president of the United States works with Congress, with the Supreme Court. We have institutions and unilateral action is not good for our democracy,” said Coronado.
And its not just the stores along the border.
Coronado says if the border shuts down, the caravan of trucks bringing goods to the borderland would stop as well, affecting commerce from El Paso and beyond.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CONTRIBUTED TO THIS ARTICLE