Governor, congressional delegation, and business community express frustration with DHS over port closure

The Biden administration’s closure of the Lukeville port of entry continues to spur criticism from the state’s business community, congressional delegation, and Gov. Katie Hobbs. 

Hobbs traveled to Lukeville on Saturday. In a video posted on social media, the governor said she was in Lukeville to “assess the situation on the ground firsthand and get Customs and Border Patrol the resources they need to reopen our port of entry.” 

Hobbs also said she’s calling on the White House for the resources and manpower to reopen the port. 

In a letter sent to President Joe Biden on Friday, the governor called for the 243 National Guard members already on federal active duty in the Tucson Sector be reassigned to reopen the Lukeville port. 

She also announced the creation of a new Border Security Office within the state Department of Homeland Security. The office will coordinate border security operations to ensure local, state, and federal assets. The effort will also include up to $5 million for the National Guard to augment and support the Department of Public Safety and local law enforcement agencies along the southern border, including fentanyl interdiction efforts. 

“Our ports of entry are vital for security and trade, and insufficient resources hinder our ability to properly manage the influx of migrants who have continued to come to Lukeville,” Hobbs said in a statement. 

Due to the closure, travelers to and from Arizona and the Sonoran community of Puerto Peñasco, also known as Rocky Point, must use ports hours away in places like Nogales and San Luis. 

Danny Seiden, the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, expressed the business community’s frustration over the closure.

“Closing a busy Arizona port of entry is more than an inconvenience. It is a decision that will have major repercussions for the local economy and businesses across the state that rely on visitor spending, particularly during one of the busiest months for cross-border travel,” he said. “This decision could lead to job losses, business closures, and devastating impacts to local communities, including an economic hit that could reach into the billions.”

Southern Arizona U.S. Rep. Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ) and Phoenix-area Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ) demanded the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provide a timeline for reopening the Lukeville Port of Entry (POE) in a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday. 

The letter demanded to know the following: 

  1. How was the determination made to close the Lukeville POE, and specifically what

metrics will be used to determine when to reopen it?

  1. What resources is your department providing to the Tucson sector to ensure a swift return

to normal operations?

  1. What resources have been diverted from other POEs?

The closure began December 4 for all crossers as DHS redirected U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) staff to assist in processing an unprecedented surge of migrant arrivals. On the same day, CBP announced a closure of an international bridge in Texas spanning the Rio Grande connecting Eagle Pass, Texas and Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico.

On Saturday, CBP announced the closure of the PedWest pedestrian crossing in San Ysidro, California south of San Diego. 

“We join Gov. Hobbs and the members of our delegation who have urged the White House and Congress to act now. The longer we wait, the more our border communities suffer,” said Seiden.

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