ARIZONA NEWS

Lukeville Port of Entry on Arizona-Mexico border reopens after monthlong closure

Jan 4, 2024, 4:35 AM | Updated: 6:29 am

The international port of entry between the United States and Mexico in Lukeville, Arizona, is seen...

The Lukeville Port of Entry on the Arizona-Mexico border was scheduled to reopen Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024, exactly one month after it was closed by U.S. officials. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — After a controversial monthlong closure and heavy pushback from Arizona officials, the Lukeville Port of Entry reopened Thursday at 6 a.m.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced Tuesday that the entry in southwest Pima County would be back in business exactly one month after it was closed in order to focus resources on handling a surge of illegal border crossings in the area.

Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Wednesday that the crossings have slowed recently, but not because of manpower maneuvers.

“The resources that we had there, all that was, was to process people through the system faster to try to alleviate the backlog in the system. … There were no enforcement measures that were being put in place that helped alleviate the numbers,” he said.

“It strictly came down to Mexico started putting a little bit of pressure on the cartels. Whether that lasts, that remains to be seen, but this was all Mexico.”

Where is the Lukeville Port of Entry and why is it important?

Lukeville is within the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector at the southern terminus of Highway 85, which starts in Buckeye and crosses through Gila Bend on the way to Mexico.

The next closest major border crossings are more than 200 miles away in either direction: the Nogales Port of Entry south of Tucson and the San Luis Port of Entry near Yuma.

Lukeville is the main crossing point for travelers heading between the Phoenix area and the tourist destination of Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point).

The town known as Arizona’s Beach became more like a ghost town after CBP officials closed the Lukeville Port of Entry on Dec. 4.

How much money is spent by Mexican visitors in Arizona?

There also was an economic impact north of the border, but it will take time to determine he full extent, Danny Seiden, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told KTAR News on Wednesday.

Seiden said what is known is that Mexican visitors spend an average around $7 million a day in Arizona, and the month of December accounts for 20-25% of the annual spending.

“While we won’t have the hard numbers anytime soon, our shop owners felt it, the border communities felt it, these hard-working people struggling to keep their restaurants and hotels open in a post-COVID world, they all felt it,” he said.

Seiden lauded Arizona political leaders from both parties for putting pressure on the Biden administration to lift the closures.

“I want to give a lot of credit to Gov. Katie Hobbs for the pressure that she was putting on the White House … as well as our delegation, in particular Congressman Juan Ciscomani, who is working on this day and night,” he said. Hobbs is a Democrat and Ciscomani a Republican.

Are any other border crossings being reopened?

The Morley Pedestrian Port of Entry in Nogales, which has been closed since Sept. 25 for renovations that initially were supposed to be completed by the end of November, also was slated to resume operations Thursday, with 10 a.m. the scheduled opening time.

CPB also said paused operations at crossings in Eagle Pass, Texas, and San Diego would resume Thursday morning.

“CBP will continue to prioritize our border security mission as necessary in response to this evolving situation,” the agency said in a statement Tuesday. “We continue to assess security situations, adjust our operational plans, and deploy resources to maximize enforcement efforts against those noncitizens who do not use lawful pathways or processes — such as scheduling an appointment via CBP One — and those without a legal basis to remain in the United States.”

Cross-border travelers can check port of entry wait times at the CBP website.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Colton Krolak contributed to this report.

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Lukeville Port of Entry on Arizona-Mexico border reopens after monthlong closure