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Nogales mayor: 'Border shutdown' rhetoric hurts legal trade

Posted at 6:56 PM, Jun 04, 2024

NOGALES, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Biden administration is making it more difficult for migrants who illegally cross the southern border to seek asylum, pushing them to use a 'lawful pathway'—such as Customs and Border Protection’s ‘CBP One’ mobile app—at ports of entry like Nogales.

Though our own reporting has shown the number of app appointments does not nearly meet the demand, leaving some migrants waiting for months in Mexico before they can claim asylum and enter the U.S.

Nogales mayor Jorge Maldonado says the new restrictions are a step in the right direction.

“People are selling their properties, selling their belongings to make the effort to come here,” he said. “Some have the means and the right reasoning for coming [to the U.S.], to relatives or stuff like that. But others, who knows?”

But Maldonado is also calling for a more efficient immigration system that hears asylum cases faster.

“Who knows if these people are even going to show up to their trials in three, four, five, six years, the way [the system has been] booked and packed,” he said.

For a city that depends on commerce from its namesake on the Mexican side, the political discussion around “closing the border” carries a lot of weight.

Maldonado says the political rhetoric puts a strain on essential, legal cross-border trade.

“A lot of people don’t realize how important we are to the country, in industry and in produce,” he said. “It’s gonna hurt… Hurts our customers. Hurts our negotiation with produce business and other customers because everyone thinks you’re gonna shut the border.”