Transportation Markets Monitors Border Closure Threats

April 5, 2019

President Trump redoubled his threats this week to close the US-Mexico border, which could substantially disrupt transportation and freight markets if the Mexican government does not make greater efforts to stop illegal border crossings. White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters that closing some or all of the ports of entry with Mexico to cross-border truck traffic are options under consideration.

Shutting down the southern border is estimated to disrupt $1.5 billion in goods shipments per day. The president could opt to close some border crossings or allow freight through, although this would still cause delays. Border state Republicans have advocated for continuing legal commerce and travel across the border, while stepping up security in other ways.

After the deployment of additional officers to the Mexican border last week, freight trucks are facing border crossing times of up to 12 hours. A complete closure would also prevent manufacturing facilities based in Mexico from completing shipments and, depending on the length of the closure, could affect supply chains.

Prior presidents have used executive authority to temporarily close the southern border, with both Presidents Nixon and Reagan partially closing the border over drug enforcement disputes. The border was completely closed for a short time after the assassination of President Kennedy. A more permanent closure would run into a number of legal challenges.