This story was originally published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. Additional reporting was conducted by Kinder Institute journalists.
As President Donald Trump threatens to shut down the U.S.-Mexico border, some of the highest-ranking Texans from within his own party are warning about the consequences of doing so.
"Closing the border to legal commerce would be devastating to Texas," U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in a statement Wednesday evening. "Millions of jobs, in Texas and across the country, depend upon trade with Mexico, and the federal government shouldn’t do anything to jeopardize those jobs."
On Thursday afternoon, Trump said, "We're going to give them [Mexico] a one-year warning, and if the drugs don't stop or largely stop, we're going to put tariffs on Mexico and products, particularly cars... And if that doesn't stop the drugs, we close the border."
While Trump has since eased up on the threat, it was enough to set off alarms in Texas, particularly in the business community.
The Texas Association of Business said Monday that one in five jobs in the state is dependent upon trade and that "no group stands to lose more than Texans in communities" along the border such as El Paso and Laredo. The business group pressed state leaders to speak out — and it was clear by Wednesday evening that some of them had gotten the message.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters Wednesday afternoon that he had spoken with Trump on the phone about the issue.
"I told him that I understand his frustration, but I also believe shutting down the border would have a lot of unintended consequences," Cornyn said. He added that he "asked the president to let me work with this administration to come up with more targeted ways to encourage Mexico and Central America to work more cooperatively with us."
Asked what Trump's reaction was, Cornyn said the president was "responsive" and told the senator to talk with Cabinet members.
Even Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — Trump's biggest cheerleader in Texas, particularly when it comes to his immigration policies — made clear he opposed a border closure. The Texas Senate, which Patrick presides over, passed a resolution Tuesday along party lines that declared an emergency at the border.
"I'm not for shutting the entire border," Patrick said in an interview Wednesday morning with Fox News Radio. "The commerce would dramatically impact Texas, America and Mexico. I'd like to see the commercial lanes flow."
Still, like other Republicans, Patrick sympathized with Trump's frustrations — and offered one solution.
"Maybe he needs to send a message and close one port, one entry point," Patrick said.