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Interborder business leaders condemn Trump’s immigration visit

President Trump waves as he exits Air Force One in McAllen, Texas for a visit to the border.

SAN DIEGO — Local San Diego business leaders whose businesses depend on interborder commerce condemned President Donald Trump’s visit Thursday to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the trip in a tweet on Monday, saying that Trump will “meet with those on the frontlines of the national security and humanitarian crisis.” On Tuesday, Trump also gave an address from the Oval Office, calling for increased border security.

Trump has been at a stalemate with congressional leaders since Dec. 22, demanding $5.7 billion to continue building a wall on the southern border. The gridlock has led to a government shutdown that is finishing its third week, resulting in more than 800,000 federal employees being furloughed or working without pay.

“The president’s insistence on a border wall will have a devastating impact on San Diego’s economy,” said Karim Bouris, the executive director of Business for Good San Diego. “In San Ysidro alone, businesses lost over $1 million per hour when the border was closed for five hours in November. Add the number of employees, students and other goods or services who need to make it across every day for our economy to remain strong, and there is simply no economic justification for wasting taxpayer dollars on a wall.”

Democrats show no signs of capitulating to Trump on wall funding in either chamber. Instead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, began holding votes Wednesday on piecemeal bills to reopen federal agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of the Treasury to ensure that tax refunds are sent out on time.

Trump last visited the border in San Diego in March 2018 to inspect prototypes of the border wall. Vice President Mike Pence and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen have also made visits to the border over the last year.

“Our company is a binational and bilingual enterprise with employees and contractors on both sides of the border, and we depend on a smooth border crossing,” said Lindsay LaShell, the director of strategy at the Diamond and Branch Marketing Group. “The policies being pushed by the president would dramatically reduce our ability to serve our existing clients or recruit the talent needed to grow our business.”

Military personnel — including 1,100 Marines from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton — were deployed to the border in November to fortify existing fencing with concertina wire and jersey barriers. The deployment was a response to a flow of several thousand Central American migrants and asylum-seekers into Tijuana.

Military members have not been involved in combat with the migrants since they arrived in Tijuana, and the federal government subsequently began sending troops home in December. The Associated Press reported Nov. 30 that some 4,000 military members were likely to stay at the border through January.

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