San Luis area feels effects of border fears

When it comes to the long-term effects of the situation at the border, it’s a waiting game. A mixture of continued military presence, less than when these troops were initially deployed this past fall, and new construction projects at the San Luis Port of Entry are resulting in longer wait times not only for migrants, but for imports coming through. This has a domino effect in impacting business as usual in the San Luis and Yuma areas.

Last September, before the migrant caravan approached, more than 200,000 crossings were recorded in that month alone. Since then, the number has decreased and is expected to continue to drop with the longer the wait times. What’s more, local businesses have to worry about the currency exchange rate that’s impacting cross-border traffic.

Most of the sales on the Arizona side of the San Luis Port of Entry come from Mexican citizens who cross through legally. Sales are dependent upon these visitors, and with a decrease of any kind comes a flurry of worry.

When it comes to currency exchange rate between Mexico and the United States, the peso was at 18 per dollar this fall and hit 20 by year’s end. This naturally has resulted in a slow down of consumerism from cross-border guests. When it comes to long-term effects, time will tell. San Luis depends on sales tax, so seeing how the decrease in visitors and consumers will impact the overall economy is a waiting game.

“We won’t see it until a couple of months from now, but it will affect San Luis Arizona because we depend on sales tax, so it will affect our economy and budget,” said Gerardo Sanchez, Mayor of San Luis, in a statement.

When President Trump called for the San Ysidro border to be temporarily shut down near San Diego, business owners scrambled. November and December are typically big shopping months for that region and most visitors from Mexico, or those who pass through there, head to local stores and malls to shop and head back to their homes back across the border.

In one day of closing the border the city of San Ysidro took a $5.3 million hit. And with $1.6 billion in cross-border trade occurring every day along the U.S.-Mexico border, all border towns, like San Luis, are wondering how to avoid taking big economic hits as the issue of border security continues to be debated in Washington D.C.

Nick Esquer

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