EDITORIAL: Big threat: Closing U.S.-Mexico border would be devastating for all

President Donald Trump once again has threatened to completely close down our southern border if Mexico doesn’t stop people from arriving there. He issued a tweet to that effect on Friday.

Mexico’s official response was basically a shrug.

“Mexico doesn’t act based on threats,” Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said in his own tweet. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obredor, at a rally in Veracruz, asked the crowd: “Let’s see the hands of those who think that I should respond every time (Trump) refers to Mexico.” The crowd stayed quiet. “Let’s see the hands of those who think we should act with prudence,” he then said, and the hands shot up.

“I am not kidding around,” Trump replied in a subsequent tweet. “It would mean all trade. … We will close it for a long time.”

Of course, foreign countries have no obligation to enforce U.S. law. They have their own laws, and leaving their countries usually isn’t among them.

Trump has made such threats before and not acted on them. Might open defiance

from Mexico cause him to respond this time?

Let’s hope not. Some $1.7 billion worth of products, everything from vegetables to hightech electronics, crosses the border every day, much of it through the Rio Grande Valley. Any stoppage would disrupt both countries’ economies and send ripples around the world.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said such an “unmitigated economic debacle” could cost as many as 5 million U.S. jobs.

Nowhere would it be felt more than here in the Valley, where daily retail sales drive much of our economy.

The effects of a border shutdown can be seen in downtown areas such as Brownsville and McAllen, which are still recovering from reductions in cross-border trade following Mexico’s 1994 peso devaluation and our own recession a decade later. Dozens of local businesses went broke and thousands of residents lost their jobs.

Closing the border would repeat that crisis and affect all U.S. taxpayers, who will be asked to provide unemployment and welfare support for the displaced workers.

Trump’s threat comes perhaps at the worst time,just two weeks before

thousands of Mexican vacationers are expected to vacation here during the Semana Santa holidays. Local merchants say these few days make or break their businesses.

To his credit, Trump’s administration is adding workers to help process the migrants arriving here. Inefficiency in dealing with them in the past, and the years-long backlog it has created, helped create the current problem.

Those efforts should continue, and we hope volunteers answer the call to help meet the migrants’ needs after the paperwork is done.

Real action — not threats that may or may not be real — ultimately are more effective in addressing our immigration problem.

But carrying out harsh threats will hurt our own economy and taxpayers more than anyone else.