By Chris Jennewein
With Donald Trump‘s big win in Indiana making him the likely Republican nominee, it’s time to begin asking what a Trump presidency would mean for San Diego.
In an interview with the New York Times, Trump listed specific actions that he would take in his first 100 days. And over the course of the primary campaign, he has revealed a host of other ideas. Here’s how they might impact San Diego:
Border Wall — Trump told the Times he expects the border wall along Mexico to be designed quickly. He gave no specifics, but a tight deadline might not allow for smooth integration with existing border crossings at San Ysidro and Otay Mesa. Maybe they’d have to be closed.
Sealing the Border — The design of the wall may be a minor issue. Even before it’s built, Trump would “seal the border.” Again, there are no specifics, but it’s likely that the tight economic integration between San Diego and Baja California would be severely disrupted. Truck transportation might be halted, as might daily travel by workers. Surely the new airport bridge would be closed.
Unfilled Jobs — A tightly sealed border would end the daily commuting by nearly 100,000 Mexican workers. There were 74,000 people unemployed in March in San Diego County, but not all of them would immediately take the low-paying jobs that become vacant. Wage rates would rise, costs would rise, and many small businesses would close.
Deportations — There are over 200,000 undocumented immigrants in San Diego County. If a President Trump makes good on his promise to deport them, there would be a significant economic impact as jobs go vacant and local businesses lose customers. More ominously, a group that large fearing imminent deportation could spark major rioting and violence.
Battling ISIS — The reality TV star who missed service in Vietnam because of a “bone spur” would likely order Coronado SEALs and Camp Pendleton Marines into battle in Syria and Iraq to fulfill his promise to win against ISIS — and prove that President Obama’s air campaign was ineffective.
Navy Pullback — Trump has questioned the value of America’s military alliance with Japan, and a breakdown in that relationship could lead to a return of the Navy’s forward-deployed ships, bringing another aircraft carrier and numerous escorts to San Diego. Our port would become much busier.
Drone Buildup — A pullback from Asia would mean that the U.S. could not count on a forward defense in case of an attack from that region. We might need to invest in a vast fleet of drones to make up for the Navy’s return to coastal waters. This might benefit the local operations of General Atomics and Northrop Grumman.
Trade War — Trump told the Times he would call up corporate executives to threaten punitive measures if they shift jobs out of the United States. Among San Diego companies, Qualcomm would likely be high on the list since it has operations in 40 countries. Its lucrative technology licensing business would be an early casualty of a trade war with China.
End of NAFTA — Beyond the short-term impact of sealing the border, a Trump administration is likely to renegotiate and possibly end the North American Free Trade Agreement, at least with respect to Mexico (Trump hasn’t been critical of Canada, perhaps because it’s not Hispanic). The result would be to permanently divide San Diego from Baja California.
Funding Cuts for Science — Scripps Institution of Oceanography will likely see funding cuts since Trump doesn’t believe in climate change. Autism research at UC San Diego might also suffer, since Trump believes vaccines are the cause. Why invest more in science he does’t agree with?
Maybe these are just starting positions for a grand negotiation by the author of “The Art of the Deal” and aren’t likely to happen.
Maybe we shouldn’t take these too seriously since Trump has expressed his trust in the National Enquirer, a supermarket tabloid that has been in the forefront of investigating UFOs.
Maybe the Constitution’s checks and balances will ensure that the bombastic real estate developer achieves none of his campaign promises.
But maybe it’s safer for thoughtful San Diegans to vote for Trump’s Democratic opponent.
Chris Jennewein is editor and publisher of Times of San Diego. He cast his first Presidential vote for Richard Nixon in 1972 while a student at the University of Pennsylvania, Trump’s alma mater.
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