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Trump steps back from Mexico border threat as companies warn of economic fallout

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump took a step back on Tuesday from his threat to close the US southern border to fight illegal immigration, as pressure mounted from companies worried that a shutdown would cause chaos to supply chains.

Trump threatened on Friday to close the border this week unless Mexico acted. He repeated that threat on Tuesday but said he had not made a decision yet: “We’re going to see what happens over the next few days.”

Closing the border could disrupt millions of legal crossings and billions of dollars in trade. Auto companies have been warning the White House privately that it would lead to the idling of US plants within days because they rely on prompt deliveries of components made in Mexico.

The US Chamber of Commerce, the largest US business lobbying group, has been in contact with the White House to discuss the “very negative economic consequences that would occur across the country,” said Neil Bradley, the group’s top lobbyist, on a call with reporters.

Trump praised efforts by Mexico to hinder illegal immigration from Central America at its own southern border. On Monday, the Mexican government said it would help regulate the flow of migrants.

“I really wanted to close it,” Trump said on Tuesday night at a fundraiser for congressional Republicans.

The Mexican government has not published apprehension statistics, but a senior White House official said it had provided daily updates to the Trump administration, including specific apprehension numbers.

“They say they’re going to stop them. Let’s see. They have the power to stop them, they have the laws to stop them,” Trump said earlier on Tuesday.

 

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