“Trump Closes the Mexican and Canadian Borders, sort of”
Friday, March 20, I was in one of 28 car lanes at the U.S. Port of Entry that is American San Diego on the north of the fenced border between the U.S. and Tijuana, Mexico. President Donald J. Trump was telling the world that he was closing the U.S. border with Canada and Mexico in an effort to slow down the surging menace of Corona virus.
Unlike most Americans, I live in Mexico, 20 miles south of the very border I was crossing to go to the non-profit that implements my Medicare. Thus, above and beyond my normal journalistic interest in the border and trade, the President was telling me that he was closing the very border I was waiting to cross. I was very interested.
I am not alone, the U.S.Consulate in Tijuana, reportedly the largest American consulate in the world, states that 250,000 Americans, like me, live in Baja California, most on Pacific Ocean beach fronts, ocean view condos and houses in Playas de Tijuana, Rosarito Beach, Ensenada and on the Gulf of California, San Felipe.
And like me, many cross the border to shop, get medical treatment, collect mail and some, a reported 50,000 legally-entitled Mexicans and Americans cross the border to work in Southern California or Las Vegas.
$1.6 billion dollars worth of goods and services cross the U.S. Mexican border in both directions-a-day, a million-dollars-worth-a-minute. Over a million legal border crossers like me-a-day or 694 people per minute cross the border like I do.
At the very San Diego border Port of Entry I was crossing Saturday, an estimated 120,000 people cross every day, some (25,000) on foot through two pedestrian gates and the rest in 50,000 cars.
Given these mind-boggling numbers, the President did a very wise thing, a million times wiser than his fallacious and racist comments in his announcement for the Presidency on June 15, 2015.
On that day, he insulted 150 million Mexicans and Mexican Americans by declaring them to be “rapists,” “criminals,” “not Mexico’s best,” and drug smugglers but that “some were nice people.” He further accused Mexico of stealing billions of dollars from the United States under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1994; he basically was calling Mexico a collective thief.
For no legitimate reason, President Trump slapped tariffs on some Mexican products that cost Americans billions in uncalled for tariffs and higher costs. He also demanded a “Wall” on the Mexican border to be paid for by Mexico to keep a dwindling number of illegal entrants from entering the United States.
He trashed NAFTA 24/7 and threatened to cancel it. He didn’t cancel it, instead he had his people add a few sentences to the original NAFTA, calling the new agreement — The U.S. Mexican Canadian Agreement (USMCA). With no help from Trump, Mexico become America’s number one trading partner, bigger than China and the traditional #1 trader with the U.S., Canada.
The day-to-day data collected by the Trump Administration finally convinced the President that his long held negative views of something he knew nothing about — TRADE — especially trade with Mexico had to be handed over to others. He had lost credibility on the subject of trade with Mexico.
As intent as I was in listening to the President say he was closing the very border I was in line to cross, he surprised me when he turned the microphone over to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Chad Wolfe. They both emphasized that the “closing” was of “non-essential” travel and did not apply to trade, commerce and/or Americans.
So, what is “non-essential” and what is “essential” travel from Mexico into the U.S…?
Non-Essential is a family trip from Tijuana to the San Diego Zoo, San Diego’s Sea World, Lego land, or shopping at San Diego’s tony Neiman Marcus’ department store.
Essential travel is for me to make my 9:30 doctor’s appointment at the non-profit medical facility five minutes north of the border or to catch a train to Los Angeles on business.
Essential is the 18-wheeler Mexican truck driver bringing a thousand flat screen televisions from Samsung’s 3,000-employee Tijuana factory or Foxconn’s 4,000-employee factory a block from Samsung so that Walmart can (on March 20) sell 65-inch flat screen televisions for $468.00, exactly $90.00 less than I paid nine years ago for a 45-inch flat screen at Walmart.
Furthermore, any restriction outlined by Secretaries Pompeo and Wolf apply to non-Americans; i.e.illegal entrants and foreign-born people applying for asylum.
U.S. citizens are not covered, nor are “green card” foreign-born who reside in the U.S. legally. More importantly, it does not apply to the billions of dollars in trade that’s crossing the border at this very minute in both directions.
The March 20th, 2020, version of President Donald J. Trump is far wiser and more respectable than candidate Donald J. Trump was on June 15, 2015, when he insulted and demeaned 150 million Mexicans by declaring them “rapists” and “criminals” and not “Mexico’s best” because he doesn’t like Mexicans who buy hundreds of billions of dollars of American goods and services.