An Impending Guacamole Blockade?

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.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar

    The 25% Tariff on Mexican Toyotas Makes the Avocado Loss a Joke in Price a Complete Joke in Comparison

    We not only need Toyotas designed by much better/inexpensive/innovative American engineers for once, we need the parts and final assembly not in Mexico, but in America instead…MAGA

    Come on Ford and GM, FCA is building a new large car plant in Detroit, why aren’t you?

  2. avatar

    That headline reminds me of the time when the idiot named “Jorge Boosh” traded nuclear secrets to India in exhange for…Wait For It! – “juicy mangoes!”