April 2, 2019

I read this morning that Trump advisers are really, really worried about the possibility of Trump closing the Mexican border. Even the Chamber of Commerce, not known for questioning Republican presidents, is warning against it. CNN's New Day dug into the issue.

"It seems that the president is torn between his desire to punish Mexico, Guatemala, et cetera and his desire not to hurt the U.S. economy, I would imagine, and so those two are at odds. Which one will win this week?" Alysin Camerota asked John Avlon.

"I think the president is more inclined to go with tough guy talk, see if he can get some action below the southern border, but he's unlikely to want to torch the economy. And look, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has warned that this would create economical calamity," Avlon said. "It's not usually what you hear from the Chamber of Commerce to a Republican president. Does he want to light his strongest assets on fire? No. He wants to see it intimidate his perceived opponents below the border."

"When you mess with Americans' guacamole, it gets their attention," Camerota said.

"Those would have -- the produce and would have an impact. But it's the economic calamity is the -- "

"Yes. Rising prices in America's heartland. A lot of the states depending on the trade. States will be pivotal in the 2020 election. Then the prospect of also empty shelves in some areas," Avlon said. "This really would go to the heart, people would feel it at home. That's why when the White House says we don't know if the president will make up his mind, this is largely a matter left up to the president's capriciousness. Most actual people advising the president with expertise are saying don't go there. This is a bad idea."

"It also, John, might be illegal. because of the Refugee Act of 1980 that sets up a system for people to seek asylum. So when they say they're illegal border crossings, it's actually legal to present yourself at a legal port of entry and ask for asylum. So Stephen Miller who says all these things, he doesn't like the claims, but this is legal. There is a legal system to do that. It would be instantly challenged in court if you shut that process down," Camerota said.

"It would," Avlon agreed. "Let's look at the absurdity of what's occurring. The president of the administration, is focusing on illegal border crossings. This is creating the balance of their argument of emergency. Shutting down legal points of entry is a totally different thing. It will compound the problem of illegal crossings. If they want to cut down on this, that does go against existing U.S. law. There is an animus there based on the past actions of the administration. It's going to compound the problem they've tried to convince us is an emergency right now. so it doesn't make a whole lot of sense."

Camerota pointed out they already won by forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico.

"He wants to go further. What is this really about? If you cut funding, for example, to those countries like Honduras and Guatemala, you potentially compound the problem of people seeking asylum because they're trying to flee unstable environments. It's about if you have a holistic view of the world, or if you just want to have a lot of bluster and aggressive action and see if you can get what you want," Avlon said.

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