Here’s why Lukeville port closure impacts businesses on both sides of border

Dec 14, 2023, 4:25 AM

A border officer inspects a vehicle inspection with a drug-sniffing dog at the San Luis Port of Ent...

Wait times are up at the San Luis Port of Entry near Yuma, Arizona. (Customs and Border Protection File Photo)

(Customs and Border Protection File Photo)

PHOENIX – Visitors from Mexico spend millions, if not billions, of dollars a year in Arizona, so it’s no surprise that businesses north of the border are worried about the closure of the Lukeville Port of Entry.

“We get millions of Mexican visitors that come across the border, a lot of them just coming for the day to shop in some of our cities that are close to the border, and actually they’ll travel all the way up into Tucson and metro Phoenix, as well,” economist Danny Court of Scottsdale-based Elliott D. Pollack & Company told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday morning.

Court said a 2019 study found that about 17.4 million Mexican visitors spent $2.9 billion in Arizona through the year.

That windfall could take a hit because the Lukeville Port of Entry has been closed since Dec. 4 as part of an effort by Customs and Border Protection officials to handle a surge of illegal migrant crossings into southern Arizona.

How does Lukeville closure affect business on both sides of border?

Lukeville is in a remote part of Arizona on south end of State Route 85, but the impact of the port closure is having a ripple effect on both sides of the border.

It’s been well documented that tourism in Puerto Peñasco, the beach town also known as Rocky Point, has taken a major hit already.

While the impact on Arizona won’t be clear until there is time to compile data, Court expressed concerns that traffic diverted from Lukeville will create significant delays at other crossings. He said that could discourage cross-border travel and reduce spending in Arizona.

For example, wait times longer than 2½ hours have been reported this week at the San Luis Port of Entry near Yuma, which regularly handles considerably more traffic than Lukeville.

“If your typical port of entry was San Luis but you’re experiencing longer wait times, those folks may decide to stay put until this settles down,” Court said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross contributed to this report.

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Here’s why Lukeville port closure impacts businesses on both sides of border