Speed Reads

Big Stick

GOP and business groups nervously mull how serious Trump is about closing the U.S.-Mexico border

The U.S. port of entry in Southern California

Economists and business groups say the costs of President Trump following through on his threat to close the U.S.-Mexico border would be very bad or worse, but many Republican lawmakers appears to believe there would be a political cost, too. A day after Trump's top aides insisted he wasn't bluffing in his weekend tweets and statements, "even administration officials and congressional Republicans were bewildered and guessing at his next move," Politico reports.

Trump has not taken any concrete steps to shut legal ports of entry, a "reasonably easy" thing to do "operationally," The Washington Post reports. And he has been quiet on the issue since returning from Mar-a-Lago late Sunday night. But Republicans are torn between regarding his threat as mere "bluster" or taking it seriously, Politico reports, "and some Hill Republicans warned that any dramatic disruption to regular traffic across the U.S.-Mexico border could bring Trump into a new confrontation with his own party."

Closing all or even some lanes at ports of entry to some or all types of traffic would disrupt trade with America's third-largest trading partner, likely causing shortages and price hikes on everything from fresh produce to electronics, disrupting business supply chains, and stranding U.S. citizens in Mexico. It wouldn't slow the influx of migrants between ports of entry, the proximate impetus for Trump's threats.

In fact, "the administration already has taken some of those actions, though they have gotten little attention," Politico reports. "Customs and Border Protection said in a March 29 memo to shipping companies, importers, and other businesses that it would halt a Sunday screening program for commercial trucks at a Nogales, Ariz., port of entry and blamed an 'unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis' for the cutback." The Department of Homeland Security is also reassigning 750 border port inspectors to help process the influx of Central American families, a move already slowing traffic through the border, and on Monday it announced plans to reassign 1,250 more inspectors.