Traffic between Mexico and the United States has been completely closed across the entry port of San Ysidro, as reported by The Hill.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents laid concrete, rebar and concertina wire (a razored, more effective form of barbed wire) across the roadways between the countries. This effectively shuts down what the Department of Transportation lists as the busiest official port of entry into the United States.
The action stops not only any potential crossings from the migrant caravan which has been approaching the United States, but also all land-based trade across that area of the border and all legal transit.
This action, combined with the recent Trump administration overhaul of the asylum system, is designed to stymie efforts by the migrant caravan. People who are caught trying to enter the country illegally between official ports of entry will be automatically denied all asylum claims; people attempting to follow United States law will be prevented from doing so by making the legal avenues unavailable.
There are costs associated with this. Trade goods are most cheaply and efficiently transported by ground along the shortest plausible route. Closing a key port of entry will result in higher prices for food and other Mexican products.
There is also the political cost. By depriving people of a legal avenue to pursue recourse available to others, it provides the international appearance that America is turning its back on its historical pro-freedom position… something deeply appreciated by dictatorships and repressive regimes throughout the world, who were previously concerned about America’s stance in favor of individual freedom. This may create friction at the upcoming G20 summit, and strengthen China’s argument – currently not especially well-received – that it is a greater proponent of free trade than America is.
Also, by shutting down only one port in response to a Central American immigrant group while ignoring immigration violations from Asia, accusations of racism as a motivating factor have been fueled.
The Trump administration is hoping the strong stance against immigration, both legal and illegal, will be interpreted as a strong stance against only illegal immigration; and that the refusal to take significant action against the millions of people already living illegally in the United States (action which is generally opposed by the Chamber of Commerce, a major Trump backer) will be used to counter the argument that they are racist in their approach.
UPDATE: Some of the lanes of traffic have now been re-opened. The local NBC affiliate has reported:
About 10 lanes were reopened several hours after the closure was instated.
Pedestrian lanes into the U.S. at the San Ysidro Pedestrian East facility were also closed for several hours Monday before reopening for northbound traveler processing. However, lanes for foot traffic at the Pedestrian West facility crossing remained open throughout the closures, CBP said.
This is a very good thing, as it does allow at least some level of traffic through. The official stance is that it was never intended to be closed for a long duration but meant to be in response to a rush at the border which never materialized. Per the San Diego Tribune:
“CBP officials suspended operations to safely place impediments at the port of entry that would restrict access to a large group attempting to run through the border crossing. After the CBP response at San Ysidro, no activity materialized at the border crossing.”
The statement does not explain why the border was shut down if there was no concrete effort to mass across the border; nor does it explain why the border is not still shut down if the effort was to prevent potential upcoming events. The official statement was provided only after the Dow Jones had dropped by more than 400 points.