Closing The U.S.-Mexico Border Could Create An Economic Crisis

Published: Tuesday, April 2, 2019 - 12:27pm
Updated: Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - 8:32am
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STEVE GOLDSTEIN: And now there's more than a humanitarian crisis to consider. There's also an economic one, as President Trump continues to threaten to close the entire U.S.-Mexico border. Each day people cross the U.S.-Mexico border to work and do business in the city of San Luis, Arizona. While President Trump threatens to close the border, the news is already having an impact on that city. Jerry Sanchez is the mayor of San Luis and joins us this morning. Good morning Mayor Sanchez.

JERRY SANCHEZ: Good morning.

GOLDSTEIN: So we understand that news of the border closure has your phone ringing off the hook. Who is calling? What are their concerns?

SANCHEZ: It has not stopped for the past two days. It's been hectic. I'm getting phone calls from parents, some came from business owners from across the border and local merchants because they don't know what's going to happen. Just a little bit of history — San Luis' population of 36-37,000 individuals, 8 million people cross that border yearly of our ports. And the thing is, any time, any time you mention delays or closing the border, 70% of the sales tax generated to run my city is generated for people that cross the border daily. And so any time you mention about closing the border, it affects us directly — not only Yuma County, San Luis, but the state as a whole, and it's worrisome. I have parents petrified. They don't know what to do, because if you close the border, you will divide families. And we're talking about legal immigration. And the thing is, and there's a lot of people who are upset. They're upset because of what's going on. They're upset because of our local government and federal government, and it's a crisis. It really is. When you talk about closing the border, the ports of entry, it really impacts my community directly.

LAUREN GILGER: Mayor Sanchez, I want to ask you also about the migrant crisis as well, about all of these people coming across the border seeking asylum. We just heard about the hundreds who are being dropped off every day here in Phoenix. What does that look like in San Luis?

SANCHEZ: What's happening is, they're not crossing through our ports. They're crossing over probably a mile, mile and a half away from the port where there is no fencing. And the thing is we're talking about 800 crossing daily, or between 200, and it's a continuous number. And the numbers keep continue going up. The problem is when the federal government decides to send 750 CBP officers to Texas, you basically, you take away from our ports, creating a very unsafe environment for our ports. Ports are very important for national security, but they're also catalysts for economic development. And the thing is, it's affected in the other ways. So for example, right now, there's delays of two or three hours in a vehicle or traffic. If you decide to cut down on CBP officers and cut lanes, that wait that used to take two or three hours is taking five to six hours to cross, and that will affect us directly. In a way, they are already closing our ports. The delays, pedestrian, crossing over — it's taking hours to cross over. So it's already having a deep impact.

GOLDSTEIN: Now Mayor, we started by saying your phone’s ringing off the hook. Who are you calling? Are you talking with members of Congress? Are you talking to senators, or at least trying to, to make sure they get this very, very emotional message that this isn't just some nameless, faceless figures out there?

SANCHEZ: I'm constantly talking to CBP. I’m constantly talking to our local mayors, local mayors regionally — the Yuma mayor, the mayor from Somerton, the mayor from Wellton — we're all getting together and trying to figure this out because it not only affects us locally, it will affect the state and it has a trickle effect. For example, the lettuce that we cultivate right now more than half of the workers who work in agriculture come across the border every day. Thousands of people cross every day. If you decide to close the border, these ag workers are not going to be able to cultivate those crops. Guess what? Your lettuce that costs $1.29 now will cost over $5. So it will affect everyone and it's crucial. Of course I'm talking. I tried talking to the port director yesterday. We normally have a very, we have a direct line basically, and we have good conversation. He's overwhelmed. The city's port director is overwhelmed. He couldn't answer me, but I'm pretty sure he'll call me today. And this is the kind of communication — we are getting a lot of support from our federal government. But the thing is, it’s reaching — it's a crisis. It really is.

GILGER: All right. Jerry Sanchez is the mayor of the border city of San Luis in southern Arizona. Mayor Sanchez, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

SANCHEZ: Thank you so much. Thank you.

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