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Arizona leaders want relaxed border restrictions for some Mexican nationals

(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

PHOENIX — A group of Arizona leaders are joining retailers in a call for relaxed border restrictions for some Mexican nationals.

Mexican citizens with a Border Crossing Card are allowed travel up to 75 miles north of the border into Arizona but the Maricopa Association of Governments has proposed extending the border zone for economic reasons.

“Extending access to the entire state for Border Crossing Cardholders would inject a little over $180 million, new money into the Arizona economy,” MAG Economic Development Chairman and Youngtown Mayor Michael LeVault said.

LeVault said there are about 1.2 million Mexicans with Border Crossing Cards. Under the proposal, those with the proper credentials would be allowed to travel freely throughout the entire state of Arizona for a maximum of 30 days.

“These folks are essentially middle-class Mexicans that are vetted, photographed (and) fingerprinted,” he said. “There are steps taken to make sure that they have a compelling reason to go back to Mexico.”

Ensuring the return of Border Crossing Card holders to Mexico is easy, according to LeVault. He said less than 1 percent overstay the current 30-day limit.

“For example, they either own a home or they own a business (in Mexico) or both and so what you have are middle-class Mexicans that want to come to Arizona and spend their money and then go home,” he said.

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