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Trump Says Closing the Border May Be Necessary Despite Economic Cost

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President Trump said Tuesday that the economic cost of closing the southern border would be worth bearing for the security such a move would provide the U.S.

National security is “more important than trade,” and “the border’s going to be closed 100 percent” if neither Congress nor Mexico steps up with a solution to the flood of migrants from Central America hoping to reach the U.S., Trump said at the White House.

“Border Patrol has done an incredible job, but the system is absolutely maxed out, and it’s a very unfair thing,” the president said.

“Sure, it will have a negative effect on the economy,” Trump said of closing the border. “It’s one of the biggest trade deals in the world that we’ve just done, with the USMCA [United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement]. [Mexico is] a very big trading partner. . . . But security is what is most important. I mean, we have to have security.

The Commerce Department reported about $502 billion worth of goods traversed the border by truck and train in 2018, for a rate of about $1.4 billion a day. Critics of the idea of closing the border have stressed the enormous costs it would inflict on the economy, but the Trump administration has continued to insist that it may have no choice.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that “we’re at a breaking point,” and Democrats have “left the president absolutely no choice.”

“This isn’t our first choice,” Sanders told reporters at the White House. “Our first choice would be for Democrats to actually sit down with us and help fix a broken system to address the national-security and humanitarian crisis that exists at our border.”

“The president has spent the last two years helping build up this economy and helping create the boom we have,” she added. “He certainly doesn’t want to hurt that.”

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