Statement by U.S. Conference of Mayors President, Columbia (SC) Mayor Steve Benjamin

Washington, DC—Below is a statement by U.S. Conference of Mayors President, Columbia (SC) Mayor Steve Benjamin on the Trump Administration’s proposal to close the Southern border:

“America’s mayors strongly oppose the President’s proposal to close the Southern border in response to the crisis that exists there today.  We urge the President not to take such action, which will do more harm than good.

Closing the border will do nothing to ease the current humanitarian crisis.  It will not reduce the number of asylum-seekers and other migrants coming to the U.S. and it will not lessen the burden on federal authorities or the cities and NGO’s trying to respond to this influx of people.

Closing the border instead will create nothing short of chaos.  Not only would it inflict lasting damage on U.S. markets and economic growth, it also would result in economic and social hardships for cities along the border and for the people who live within them. Their lives and livelihoods would be upended.

El Paso’s experience demonstrates this.  On average, each day in 2018 there were: 35,819 vehicles crossings into El Paso; 19,787 pedestrians crossings; 2,594 cargo crossings and the daily value of trade was $212 million.  Mexican shoppers account for 10-15 percent of El Paso’s retail sales.  A 10 percent increase in maquiladora output has increased El Paso’s transportation employment by 5.3 percent.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors stands ready to work with the Administration and Congress to develop a rational immigration and border security policy.  In the short term, Congress needs to provide emergency funding to support federal and local agencies as they try to accommodate the increasing number of people crossing the border and requesting asylum.  In the long term, Congress and the Administration need to get to the root of the problem and fix our broken immigration system.”