NOGALES, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - A decision made by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday to close the Morley Pedestrian Border Crossing was quickly reversed after a wave of complaints by local businesses.
The gate is normally open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and this decision would have made it only open Monday through Saturday, forcing people to walk across at the other crossing in town: the DeConcini Port of Entry.
Shops line Morley Avenue, all the way up to the crossing itself. Many businesses there depend on a mainly international clientele.
"In this area of Nogales, Arizona, I believe that in reality, we maintain ourselves economically speaking, because of the people from Mexico," Hugo Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez works at Sam's Perfume, about 100 yards from the border crossing. He explained the majority of their customers are not Americans, but rather, Mexican citizens.
"Because all of the people that come as tourists buy clothes here, then take it back to Mexico," he said. "We depend on them."
He felt the original decision to close the gate on Sundays would have a negative affect on the economy in Nogales, one he believes is already struggling.
"A lot of businesses have closed because the economy has gone down tremendously," he said.
Yolanda Laguna is from Tucson but spends a good amount of time down at the border in Nogales. She agreed with Gonzalez, nothing most shoppers are from across the border.
"Most of the people that come here are from Mexico," she said.
If the decision stuck, she believed it would drive up wait times at the DeConcini Port of Entry, therefore pushing away potential shoppers for the Morley Ave. businesses. When she heard the decision was quickly reversed, she said it was the right move.
"That's very good. I'm glad about it," she said. "Because all of these businesses depend on the people that come from Mexico."
CBP explained with the original decision, the goal was to maximize personnel and resources in Nogales, where they are currently about 150 officers short of a full staff.