EL CENTRO -With thousands of Central Americans traveling north through Mexico to enter the United States, concerns are being raised and tensions are running high. According to the Washington Post, the most recent update as of October 24, put the caravan’s size at approximately 7,000 people, mainly of young men but some families and small children.
While President Trump and his administration have not settled on a plan of action in the case of the caravan reaching the U.S. border, he has made comments regarding the closure of the southern border.
“I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught – and if unable to do so, I will call up the U.S. Military and close our southern border,” said Trump.
In Imperial County, the shared border between the U.S. and Mexico includes three ports of entry. Trump’s statement raised concerns with the Imperial County Board of Supervisors, causing them to sign a resolution denouncing the closure of the international borders during their Tuesday, October 23 meeting.
According to a recent economic impact study, in 2014 approximately 18.6 million people traveled north into Imperial County through the border crossing. The calculated spending of those border crosses in 2016 was $1.93 billion.
“To block the ports of entry, I think, would be catastrophic economically. It would deter and stop all trade,” said Supervisor Raymond Castillo.
According to the County Supervisors comments Tuesday, Imperial County relies on the commerce and economic impact of the border crossers. They believe that closing the borders would devastate the local economy, employment rate, and local families of Imperial County.
“The retail industry depends on that influx of visitors and shoppers and buyers. We need to speak up and say something about this, because the reality is we’ve seen influx before but they don’t crash the border. They come to the ports of entry and apply for asylum. It’s never really posed a safety risk to our community, and I think the same could be said about what’s occurring right now,” said Castillo during the meeting's discussion.
Supervisor John Renison said during the meeting, “This is the lifeblood of the Valley. Seventy percent of our retail sales are Mexico. We have 60,000 people crossing the border daily. This is absurd and this is just not right. This really makes me furious.”
With County Supervisors in agreement to oppose the closure of the international border located between Imperial County and Mexico, a copy of the resolution was directed to the Governor of California, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Justice, and President Donald Trump.
“There are better ways to handle the current migration that’s coming to the U.S. The Border Patrol is there, the National Guard is there, and we don’t need to block the ports of entry,” said Castillo during the meeting.