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Border Closure Threats Deter Business Investments

President Donald Trump walked back his threats to close the border Thursday. Instead he said he might impose auto tariffs on Mexico next year, then close the border if that doesn’t work.

But even his talk of cutting off cross-border trade and travel affects businesses on both sides of the border, said Wendee Molina. She’s the head of the local international manufacturing industry in Nogales, Sonora.

"It’s already having a negative impact on investors to grow their business that they currently have in Mexico or to try to invest in the country," she said, adding: “Obviously we try to diminish the uncertainty, but it’s there. It’s a little bit difficult for us to keep things positive, there’s no way we can keep things positive, because we don’t know what decision are going to be made.”

And Molina says that uncertainty about what’s going to happen at the border affects the U.S. economy just as much as the Mexican economy. She says that's something Trump should consider.

“Even though the first intention is to impact Mexico, in my opinion it’s going to have the biggest impact in the United States," she said.

That’s because the majority of factories in Nogales are owned by American corporations, and many of the products they’re making are destined for the United States, too.

Nogales, Sonora Mayor Jesus Pujol added that he doesn't believe President Trump will really close the border, but that doesn't mean it doesn't affect people on both sides.

"I have to take it seriously. I don't think it will happen, but I have to take it seriously because people think it's already closed," Pujol said.

For days there has been little traffic crossing the border in Nogales, he says. He thinks it's because people from southern Sonora are afraid to cross the border and get stuck if Trump imposes a shutdown.

Pujol says it's not good for his city, and he knows his counterparts north of the border don't like talk about border closures either.

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Kendal Blust was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2018 to 2023.