CINCINNATI — President Donald Trump has threatened to "seal" the U.S.-Mexico border to combat illegal immigration — a move that might include shutting down trade, according to multiple reports.
Closing off trade would disrupt the flow of $26 billion of food imports in the U.S. from Mexico — threatening U.S. shoppers with potential shortages and higher prices for their groceries. Consumers would see the biggest impact at the produce section, which imports nearly $14 billion of fruits and vegetables from Mexico annually.
Top imports from Mexico include: $2.3 billion worth of avocados in 2017; $1.8 billion in tomatoes; $2 billion in berries; and nearly $1 billion in peppers, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Trump renewed calls for tougher border security last week as he cut off aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — countries blamed for migrant caravans that travel through Mexico to enter the U.S. The president threatened to close the border with Mexico, adding closing off trade was a possibility, according to the New York Times.
Officials with Cincinnati-based Kroger, the nation's largest supermarket chain, declined comment.
The DEMOCRATS have given us the weakest immigration laws anywhere in the World. Mexico has the strongest, & they make more than $100 Billion a year on the U.S. Therefore, CONGRESS MUST CHANGE OUR WEAK IMMIGRATION LAWS NOW, & Mexico must stop illegals from entering the U.S....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2019
....through their country and our Southern Border. Mexico has for many years made a fortune off of the U.S., far greater than Border Costs. If Mexico doesn’t immediately stop ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States throug our Southern Border, I will be CLOSING.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2019
....the Border, or large sections of the Border, next week. This would be so easy for Mexico to do, but they just take our money and “talk.” Besides, we lose so much money with them, especially when you add in drug trafficking etc.), that the Border closing would be a good thing!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2019
Such a move would affect nearly 50 border crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border that would be closed for entry and exit, stopping the hundreds of thousands of people and an estimated $1.7 billion in goods and services that cross each day, according to the to State Department.
Americans would run out of avocados in three weeks if imports from Mexico were stopped, officials with the world's largest grower told Reuters.
"You couldn't pick a worse time of year because Mexico supplies virtually 100 percent of the avocados in the U.S. right now," said Mission Produce CEO Steve Barnard.
White House officials expressed concern Monday about the potential effects if Trump follows through on his threat to shut down the US border with Mexico.
"We could be in a whole world of hurt," one White House official told CNN on Monday.
Cutting aid and closing ports: Here's what's happening at the southern border
Mexican border closing: Trump threatens to seal the border if Mexico doesn't 'immediately stop' immigrants
Trump closing border?: Republicans, Chamber of Commerce question president's latest threat
Contributing: USA Today
Follow Alexander Coolidge on Twitter: @alexcoolidge.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Want your avocados, tomatoes and berries? Trump shutdown of Mexico border could cause shortages