By Steve Segner, Sedona Resident
(February 24, 2017)
Since his days on the campaign trail, President Trump has repeatedly spewed incendiary rhetoric about Mexico, including threats to impose tariffs on Mexican goods. Following through on these threats would have several negative consequences that would devastate our relationship with Mexico and ultimately harm the American people.
Mexico is our neighbor and ally, and we should focus on cooperating with them in an effort to advance our mutual interests. In addition, we must remember that trade is a two-way street, and Mexico has plenty of options for retaliation if Trump starts a trade war.
For example, México currently stops and sends back immigrants from South and Central American countries at checkpoints along its southern border and throughout Mexico (although the U.S. pays for some of this cost). If provoked, Mexico could choose to stop acting as the gatekeeper and simply let these immigrants’ head to America. This could result in more situations like the influx of unaccompanied immigrant children that descended upon Texas in 2015.
Mexico also does not need to accept everyone that ICE deports—only those with the necessary papers to prove Mexican citizenship. Considering that many border crossers do not have papers, Mexico could become less cooperative about accepting individuals deported from the U.S.
It is also important to remember that Americans buy copious amounts of illegal drugs that flow through Mexico from South America. Mexico could turn a blind eye and cease efforts to stop the flow of drugs into the U.S., exacerbating societal plagues like the ongoing heroin epidemic.
In addition to worsening our illegal immigration and drug problems, conflict with Mexico would harm American workers and our economy. Mexico buys vast quantities of products like corn and wheat from farmers in the Midwestern U.S. They could choose to start purchasing these items from Brazil and Canada, which would have a detrimental impact on our agricultural industry. Mexico ccould adjust for the additional cost of importing these items from other countries by imposing a tax on all items made in the U.S.—as mentioned above, a trade war would work both ways!
Finally, Mexico could halt or tax the maquiladoras program, whereby products are made in America, shipped to Mexico for assembly, and returned to the U.S. tax-free. This would threaten American jobs and harm our economy, particularly in states like Texas, California, and New Mexico.
As Mr. Trump continues to make threats and rash remarks against our neighbor to the south, he should keep in mind that Mexico would have its own weapons in a trade war. The U.S. would be unlikely to win such a war, and Mexico’s reaction could impair the safety and prosperity of the American people.