After Threatening to Shut the U.S.-Mexico Border This Week, Trump Muddies Water With New Link to Auto Tariffs

WASHINGTON -- Last Friday, President Donald Trump threatened to freeze all U.S.-Mexico border crossings this week. Top aides insisted that he wasn't bluffing.But on Thursday, ahead of a saber rattling visit to a border crossing in southern California, Trump stepped on his own message by issuing a new threat -- to impose auto tariffs to squeeze Mexico, and only if that doesn't work would he shut down the border.Mexico, he said, would get a "one-year warning" and if he doesn't see tangible help in stemming the flow of migrants, and a crackdown on drug trafficking, he would order new tariffs."If the drugs don't stop, we'll tariff the cars. If that doesn't work, we'll close the border," he told reporters in the Cabinet Room, during a meeting of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council.He insisted that he is not bluffing."I will do it. I don't play games," he said, adding, "The whole ballgame is cars....If Mexico doesn't help, that's okay. We'll tariff their cars."A one-year timeline for shutting the border, however, suggests that Trump has backed down from the threat he issued last week and repeated for several days. Pressure from business interests and fellow Republicans has been intense. Mexico is the top trading partner for Texas, and the third biggest trading partner for the United States as a whole.On Wednesday, both of Texas' Republican senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, went public with their displeasure at the president's threat to close the border.Cruz, who rarely defies Trump in public, noted that millions of jobs in Texas and nationwide rely on U.S.-Mexico trade."Closing the border to legal commerce would be devastating to Texas," he said. "...Of course, we should secure the border. ...But the answer is not to punish those who are legally crossing the border. The answer is not to punish Texas farmers and ranchers and manufacturers and small businesses. Closing legal points of entry would harm American commerce and legal transit between Mexico and the United States, and leave coyotes and human traffickers to roam free in the wilderness of our unsecured border."  Continue reading...

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