April 2 (UPI) -- The White House said Tuesday it's studying options to close parts of the U.S.-Mexico border, a followup to a threat from President Donald Trump to do so to stem the flow of migrants.
Trump made the pledge Friday, saying he wouldn't hesitate to close the border if the Mexican government didn't take steps to stem the flow of migrants. Tuesday, Trump and press secretary Sarah Sanders indicated a border shutdown is on the table.
Sanders said the president "certainly doesn't want to hurt" economic growth, but added his main job as president is to "protect life" and "protect Americans."
Sanders added the White House Council of Economic Advisers has started examining the effect of closing entry points.
"We're looking at all options when it comes to closing the different ports of entry," she said.
"Eventually, it may be that it's the best decision that we close the border," Sanders added. "This isn't our first choice. We're looking at all options when it comes to closing the different ports of entry. Democrats are leaving us absolutely no choice at this point."
"After many years (decades), Mexico is apprehending large numbers of people at their Southern Border, mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador," Trump tweeted. "They have ALL been taking U.S. money for years, and doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for us, just like the Democrats in Congress!"
Closing ports of entry could cost U.S. businesses and manufacturers $726 million a day, the National Association of Manufacturers said Tuesday.
More than 21,000 U.S. manufacturers representing 1 million jobs rely on exporting to Mexico, the NAM report said. Closing the border, it says, puts those jobs at risk.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said that while he agrees with Trump that there's a crisis on the border, closing it "would have potentially catastrophic" economic impacts on the United States.
"I would hope we would not be doing that sort of thing," he told reporters.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer agreed.
"The economic disaster to the country would be huge, and my guess is that cooler heads will prevail upon the president not to do it. It would be a disaster for him and a disaster for the country," he said.
The Trump administration has also threatened to cut off aid to Hondurans and other countries where many of the migrants originated.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., opposes closing off the border and stopping aid to Central America, saying they are "two of the worst ideas," and that closing down the border "is an applause line, not an idea."