The United States is in the midst of an ongoing border crisis. And, in response, President Trump has considered ordering a shutdown of the southern border. Illegal border crossings hit a decade high in February. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is on track to arrest nearly one million illegal border crossers. What Central American officials have called “the mother of all caravans” – which could hit 20,000 members – is currently forming in Honduras. And outbreaks of mumps and other diseases that are not common in the United States have caused U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to quarantine over 2,000 illegal aliens in detention centers.
But, per one article recently featured by Reuters, sovereignty, national security and public safety aren’t what we should be worried about. According to the news service a border closure may well lead to an avocado shortage and a scarcity of tequila. Says Reuters, “From the avocados on avocado toast, to the limes and tequila in margaritas, the United States is heavily reliant on Mexican imports of fruit, vegetables and alcohol to meet consumer demand.”
In spite of the silly title , the piece claims to be about the trade implications of a potential border closure. It asserts that any attempt to stop legal border traffic will result in a loss of “about $137 billion in “food imports.” What Reuters doesn’t mention, however, is that there are alternative sources for most products that the U.S. buys from Mexico.
While Mexico supplies most of the international avocado market, there are roughly 56 other countries that grow the fruit, including Australia, Israel, Spain and South Africa. And, although they can’t call it tequila, there are distillers making liquor out of the blue agave plant in both South Africa and the United States. American consumer markets are extremely durable and motivated suppliers will always find appropriate substitutes for shortage products.
Before Reuters starts bemoaning a guacamole blockade, it has to take into account a key fact: Most Americans would gladly eat Australian avocados and drink South African “tequila” in exchange for border security. After all, Donald Trump won the presidency largely due to his pro-enforcement stance on immigration.
There is certainly a long list of significant issues that the president should consider before he orders a border shutdown. However, making sure that American foodies have an authentic source for Mexican food and booze shouldn’t be anywhere on that list.