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Nogales mayor says Trump policies are costing city thousands of dollars

(AP Photo/Brian Skoloff)

PHOENIX — The mayor of Nogales said Trump administration policies are damaging the Arizona border town’s economy.

Arturo Garino told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes Show on Tuesday that his city has made $140,000 less at this point than a year ago, which he believes is a direct effect of President Donald Trump moving border agents away from ports of entry.

“Our concern, right now at the border, is that we lost agents that were sent to Texas and other places that were sent to help out with the stress and what they’re doing with migrants,” Garino said. “We’re losing those agents and now that turns our main ports of entry into being a lot busier and the wait times extended.

“So it is causing problems, not only for us here but for other businesses north of here.”

Garino said the wait time to drive across the border is currently up to 4-5 hours, which is not only slowing tourist traffic but also affecting commercial businesses who rely on the ports.

A visit from Vice President Mike Pence last week only elevated Garino’s concerns.

“He forgot to visit the ports of entry,” Garino said of Pence’s visit. “The ports of entry is where we need to bring staff so that we can get the legal process of trade and people across. Those are the things I think we’re missing out when it comes to the federal government. They’re not really attending to that business.

“Their only concern is the wall, and that’s going to cause problems not only in Arizona but in California, New Mexico and Texas.”

Garino added that he is a proponent of border walls — Nogales has one — but just wants it not to come at the expense of the city’s economics.

He said 65-70 percent of the city’s sales tax comes from outsiders who come to shop in Nogales.

“They come through the ports, they go through the legal process and they go to Tucson and Phoenix and Nogales,” Garino said. “We’re concerned about that.”

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, spent time in Nogales with U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Tuesday and noted the importance of border operations.

“We need a safe and secure border that stays open for trade and commerce — keeping goods we need flowing and keeping unsafe goods and illegal drugs out,” she tweeted.

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