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Trump's border shutdown threat left them in limbo



Ask people living near the US-Mexico border how they feel these days and you'll hear a common answer: Most politicians do not understand what it's like to live here – or how few words from Washington can send lives into turmoil.

By Thursday, Trump seemed to be backtracking on the idea – at least for now. But for many border residents, anxiety is still lingering. Their lives were thrown into limbo this week, and there's no telling when that could happen again.

She had a go bag in her car because she's scared she'll get stuck

When Sarah Chavez heard the border could be shut down, fear flashed through her mind. The 29-year-old American citizen lives with her parents in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and works as a nursing graduate program manager at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Her parents need to help her to care for them. Her job can not be done remotely. This week, she started to carry a bag with necessities in the trunk of her car in case she is not able to return home. She worried she would not see her family again when she headed to the office. Chavez says she has crossed the border almost every day for a decade. She has been sleeping at friends' houses in El Paso for days, uncertain of when an announcement could come.

After this week's turmoil she is thinking for the first time about moving to El Paso to avoid the hassle and uncertainty.

He says Americans would be "toothless" if they could not cross the border

Crossing the border is a regular part of Carlos Flores' life. He makes a weekly trip to visit his father in Mexico.

Flores says he and many other Texas residents need to be able to head south of the border just to make ends meet.

If not, he says US citizens could be dealing with serious health consequences. He will regularly buy medicine in Mexico – where prices are lower – just in case everyone in his family on the US side of the border gets sick.

T raft backups at the border are taking the bite out of his business

With or without shutdown, there is already a major change that has been affecting the border. The Department of Homeland Security officials say they've shifted staffing away from ports of entry to help handle the influx of migrants who illegally cross the border. That's led to lane closures and major traffic slowdowns at the ports. And Oscar Corral says it's already taking a bite out of its importing business.

Two shipments of products he was expecting this week did not show up on time, Corral said. Trucks have been stuck waiting at the border for hours, sometimes to the next day.

A border shutdown would likely force many US-based small businesses like his to close, he says, but the slowdowns are making things tougher.

They finally found a way to live near each other Then this happened

 Gabriela Garcia and Sarah McGonigle shared their concerns about closing the border at a women's march in El Paso in January.

Gabriela Garcia, 32, is skeptical now that a border shutdown will ever happen. If it does, she believes it would only last for a few days due to the negative economic impact. But still, she and her girlfriend recently attended a protest to share their perspective.

The more than 300 miles between Garcia and her girlfriend, Sara McGonigle, 28, did not stop them falling in love last year. The couple, who met through a dating app, had been in a long distance relationship until a few months ago, when McGonigle moved from Santa Fe, New Mexico to El Paso.

As McGonigle, a nanny, yoga instructor and Aspiring doula, was preparing for a fresh start in the border town with Garcia, they began hearing about Trump's intentions.

She worries for her patient – and for her father

Evelyn Atayde is a caretaker for a 98-year-old woman in El Paso, helping her bathe and dress – and keeping her company.

Her father lives in Ciudad Juarez, and lately, he needs more help, too. So she's been spending nights on both sides of the border, trying to be ready for everything else next.

Atayde says her father is suffering from advanced kidney failure, diabetes, hypertension and enlarged heart.

CNN's Natasha Chen, Samira Said and Rosa Flores contributed to this report.


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