Dec 5, 2023 - News

Unclear how long before border crossing at Lukeville is reopened

A warning sign near Lukeville in 2017. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has no timetable for when it might reopen the port of entry at Lukeville, and it's unclear what would prompt the feds to reverse the closure that began Monday.

Catch up quick: CBP closed the port of entry to redeploy personnel to assist Border Patrol in apprehending, transporting and processing a surge of migrants illegally crossing the border in the area.

  • CBP spokesperson John Mennell tells Axios Phoenix that Lukeville-based agents will primarily be working at a collection point in Organ Pipe National Monument and transporting detainees to a Border Patrol station in Ajo.
  • A CBP spokesperson said the agency apprehended about 17,500 migrants last week, compared with 23,411 total migrant encounters for all of November 2022, ABC News reported. There were over 55,000 encounters this October.

Why it matters: Closing the port of entry at Lukeville hinders trade and tourism, blocking the direct route to Puerto PeƱasco and closing travel into the U.S. at a time of year when Mexicans often travel north.

  • Gov. Katie Hobbs Hobbs told reporters Monday it was a "bad decision" that hurts Arizona's economy.
  • The governor also said it's "extremely frustrating" that the Biden administration hasn't told her how long the border crossing will be closed.

State of play: Hobbs said she's concerned about such redeployments spreading to other ports of entry in Arizona and further hindering cross-border trade and tourism.

  • Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors chair Manuel Ruiz told AZ Family he's worried the closure will have a domino effect that puts additional stress on other ports of entry.
  • CBP urged cross-border travelers to use the ports of entry either in Nogales, about 204 miles away by car, or San Luis, which is 215 miles away in the U.S. or 128 on the Mexican side.

Yes, but: Hobbs isn't looking to use the state's resources to assist CBP, saying "folks on the ground," like border-area mayors and local law enforcement agencie,s aren't asking for such action.

  • She also has no plans to ask the Biden administration to provide federal funding for a state deployment of Arizona National Guard troops to the border.

Between the lines: Retired Maj. Gen. Mick McGuire, who led the Arizona National Guard under former Gov. Doug Ducey, tells Axios Phoenix it's unrealistic for a governor to deploy troops to the border without federal funding.

  • To mobilize all 8,000 Arizona National Guard troops to the border would cost about $1.2 billion, he said.
  • Guard troops can't apprehend or detain migrants, McGuire added, but they can provide support services to federal and local law enforcement, and could help operate ports of entry.
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