US to close border crossing in Arizona due to large influx of migrants

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US to close border crossing in Arizona due to large influx of migrants

PHOENIX —

The high number of migrants crossing the southern border of the United States around the remote community of Lukeville, Arizona, led federal authorities to decide to close the port of entry there so that operational officials monitoring the Car traffic and Pedestrians in both directions help the Border. Patrol agents intercept and process new arrivals.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced Friday that temporary border crossing closures will begin Monday, as authorities deal with changing immigration routes that have exacerbated Border Patrol agents’ deployments. there. . Arizona’s governor and federal senators from the state described the planned shutdown as “unacceptable.”

The agency said it would “increase all available resources to quickly and safely process migrants” and “continue to prioritize our border security mission as necessary in response to this evolving situation.” .”

In recent months, the area near the crossing has become a heavily used migration route, where smugglers drop off people from countries as diverse as Senegal, India and China. Most of them enter the United States on foot west of Lukeville through gaps in the border fence, and then head east toward the official border crossing to surrender to the first agents they see in hopes of an opportunity. to receive asylum.

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The Border Patrol made 17,500 arrests for illegal crossings last week in the Tucson sector, John Modlin, the sector chief, said Friday. That translates to a daily average of 2,500, up from a daily average of 1,700 in September, when Tucson was already the busiest corridor for illegal crossings along the southern US border.

CBP blamed “smugglers selling disinformation to prey on vulnerable people” for hundreds of people arriving each day in the area around Lukeville.

It is unclear how long the border crossing will be closed.

Although remote, the border crossing at Lukeville is the most commonly used to travel to Puerto Peñasco, a resort in the Mexican state of Sonora, on the Sea of ​​Cortez. Americans also cross to visit the Mexican border community of Sonoyta to eat, shop or receive cheaper medical and dental care.

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Some Mexican children cross the border every day on the northbound bus to go to school.

Arizona Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, along with Governor Katie Hobbs, criticized the plan to close the crossing and demanded better solutions from the administration of President Joe Biden.

“This is an unacceptable consequence that further damages our border, puts the safety of our communities at risk, and harms our economy by disrupting commerce and tourism,” they said in a joint statement. “The federal government must act quickly to maintain ports of entry operations, maintain border control, protect Arizona communities, and ensure the humane treatment of migrants.”

Kelly and Hobbs, both Democrats, and Sinema, an independent elected as a Democrat, also criticized “partisan politicians who parrot talking points while watching the border get worse. ”

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They said politicians should “not lend themselves to being a good board and work with us to do something to protect our communities.”

On average, about 3,140 people in vehicles and 184 pedestrians entered the United States each day through Lukeville in October, according to the latest figures from the US Department of Transportation.

Travelers can continue crossing to enter or leave the United States through Nogales, Arizona, a three-hour drive to the east, or San Luis, also in Arizona, a two-hour drive to the west.

CBP began limiting traffic at the Lukeville port this week. On Monday, the agency also closed one of two bridges to vehicles in Eagle Pass, Texas, a city of about 30,000 that was the busiest corridor for illegal crossings at some point last year.