Lukeville border reopens after ‘month of strain’ in southern Arizona

O'Hara Shipe
6 Min Read

After a month-long closure, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reopened the Lukeville Port of Entry on the Arizona-Mexico border on Thursday at 6 a.m.

The Lukeville border closed on Dec. 4 after the U.S. Border Patrol reported a surge of migrants crossing into the southwestern U.S. At the time, CBP said that the closure was needed to focus its agents on processing the 17,500 migrants who were apprehended while trying to cross the border in November.

The closure resulted in hundreds of asylum seekers spending days outdoors with little food or water as they waited to be processed at the port of entry, the Arizona Republic reported.

On Tuesday, Gov. Katie Hobbs welcomed CBP’s announcement that the border crossing would reopen.

“The closure of the Lukeville Port of Entry caused a month of strain and concern for Arizona’s border communities,” Hobbs said. “While the reopening is welcome news, this closure shouldn’t have happened in the first place.”

Hobbs also called on the federal government to send more resources to the southern Arizona border crossing.

“While Lukeville will be reopened soon, it’s clear we have work to do to secure our border. As Governor, I am committed to keeping our communities safe and prosperous, and look forward to working with border communities to get that done,” she said.

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Gov. Katie Hobbs has called for increased federal funding for border security.

Elias Weiss

‘This is not a minor inconvenience’

The Lukeville border crossing is the most direct route for Arizonans looking to visit the popular Mexican beach destination of Puerto Peñasco, also known as Rocky Point. The next nearest crossing is more than four hours away in Nogales.

Mexican business owners who survive on tourism in the resort town voiced concerns that the port closure would have dire financial consequences for their livelihoods. A month later, many are reporting catastrophic losses.

More than 10,000 Puerto Peñasco residents work in tourism, and many were laid off during the closure.

“This is not a minor inconvenience for some tourists headed to the beach,” Aaron Cooper, the executive director of the Ajo-based International Sonoran Desert Alliance, told the Arizona Republic. “This changes the lives of people living in small and vulnerable communities of color.”

But it wasn’t only Puerto Peñasco businesses that shouldered the financial burden of the closure.

“The economic impact has been devastating to this area,” said Adelita Grijalva, chair of the Pima County Board of Supervisors, during a reopening news conference.

Bernadette Nez, the general manager of the Why Not Travel Store in Why, Arizona, said that she has seen her profits take a 90% hit.

“Our sales had dropped down dramatically. Last week, we made $5,000, which is what we usually would make in an eight-hour shift,” Nez told NBC News.

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A U.S. Border Patrol agent shouts at immigrants who cut into a long line of people awaiting transport from the U.S.-Mexico border on Dec. 6 in Lukeville.

John Moore/Getty Images

‘It will take some time’

The reopening of the Lukeville border crossing comes at a crucial time, according to Oscar Palacio Soto, vice president of tourism for the Puerto Peñasco Chamber of Commerce and of the Mexican Association of Hotels and Motels in Sonora.

Apart from the Christmas and New Year’s Eve rush, mid-January is Puerto Peñasco’s busiest season as snowbirds begin to migrate to the city and tend to stay longer than the typical tourist. Still, Palacio Soto said he doesn’t expect a major economic upturn right away.

“I think it will take some time. People will wait and see what will happen the first weekend and what happens next,” he said. “That will allow us to monitor the speed by which we get back to normal, which hopefully happens as quickly as possible.”

Although Palacio Soto has hope for the future, some Arizona legislators, such as Democratic Sen. Brian Fernandez, have continued concerns.

“Even with the port of entry reopened, the migrant situation is unsustainable and growing worse each day as Congress ignores the human and economic impact in southern Arizona. Our border communities deserve safety and security. It is vital that this funding finds its way to southern Arizona immediately,” Fernandez said in a statement.

In addition to Lukeville, CBP said operations will also resume at Eagle Pass International Bridge 1 in Eagle Pass, Texas, and San Ysidro Port of Entry’s Pedestrian West in San Diego. Check port of entry wait times here.

O’Hara Shipe News/Valley Fever

2024-01-07 03:07:00 , Phoenix New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Phoenix, Arizona, Phoenix New Times –

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