Arizona Border Towns 'Can’t Afford' To Ignore Trump Shutdown Threat

Published: Friday, March 29, 2019 - 1:39pm
Updated: Friday, March 29, 2019 - 4:07pm
Murphy Woodhouse/KJZZ
Motorists wait to cross at the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales, Sonora, in February 2019.

Unless Mexico does more to stop Central American immigration to the United States, Trump tweeted Friday morning that he would close, “the Border, or large sections of the Border, next week.”

He made a similar threat in December, and another Thursday, but neither had a specific timetable.

“We can't afford not to take it serious,” said Guillermo Valencia, chair of the port authority in Nogales, Arizona. “There's too much on the line not to. He's the President of the U.S.”

In January, $1.37 billion worth of goods were imported through the Nogales port of entry, and $920 million worth were exported, according to the most recent federal trade data. Nearly 300,000 pedestrians crossed into Arizona there in December, along with a similar number of personal vehicles. Mexicans shoppers spend several billion dollars in Arizona annually.

Valencia said Nogales is already getting a small taste of what a shutdown would be like with numerous port officers slated to be moved elsewhere to assist the Border Patrol, which is dealing with massive apprehensions of Central American migrants. Long border waits were already an issue prior to that announcement.

“Those concerns will just be elevated, those lines will just be increased,” Valencia said.

Also of concern is fast-approaching Holy Week, which is one of the periods of heaviest border crossing. Even if the threat is not carried out, it could still cause would-be crossers to reconsider their travel plans, according to Valencia.

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