It’s January 7th, 2024, as this is being written. The Lukeville port of entry has reopened as of the 4th, after having been closed for exactly one month. What, you may ask, did this closure and restriction of trade accomplish? Puerto Peñasco was, and still is as of today, a ghost town. Many businesses have shut down, some, permanently.
Those that could weather this ‘storm’ did so at great cost to both their business models and their employee’s welfare. Many people who lost their jobs could not afford food for their families. Thankfully, many people ‘cowboyed up’ and started food drives and toy drives. One I’m aware of, and I’m sure there are many others, is American Legion Post #15 and the American Legion Riders of Post #15 who provided almost 500 bags of food to local people in need, as well as hundreds of gifts for the niños for Navidad. People helping people is what our community is about at its core.
Americans who purchased condos for rental income had almost 100% cancellation rates, local Mexican businessmen and women who have rental units suffered the same fate. Going to town from the playas was eerie, too. Stores where gringos and locals normally shop were very empty. Traffic was so light it was like COVID all over again!
A few (very few) Americans traveled to Peñasco via San Luis and Nogales ports of entry making 7-to-10-hour trips that normally took 3 or 4 from either Phoenix or Tucson. Getting into Mexico was not a chore, getting back out was an exercise in patience. Personally, because of doctor appointments, I waited in line at San Luis for almost 3 hours to cross back into the ‘states making my trip from Peñasco to Phoenix some ten hours long, and I know people who were in line longer than that! This kind of bottleneck is inexcusable and speaks volumes about CBP and their ability to adapt.
Some enterprising people started travel services, escorting caravans of nervous travelers from either city down to Peñasco. Reports of gang violence rang from Caborca to Sonoyta, Sasabe and other places along the routes. The deplorable condition of Sonora’s roads we highlighted in almost every Facebook post on Peñasco sites. Is this the kind of advertising we need for our fair city? Admittedly if the powers in Hermosillo are moved to improve our roads (which are horrible, statewide), some good might come from this debacle, but on the whole the border closure was an unmitigated disaster for everyone concerned.
If the stated reason for the POE closure had been realized (ie: to slow the progress of illegal border crossers, or to ‘process’ the surge) then it could be said that there was at least a method to this madness, but that was not the case. The CBP apprehended and ‘processed’ about the same amount of illegal entrances as they have in months and years past during the closure, without the Lukeville POE closed, putting the lie to the story that taking personnel from the Lukeville POE was necessary to help with the influx. No, this was a purely political move which stirred up a hornet’s nest in local and national politics on the U.S. side of the border. For what gain I know not. Arizona’s governor threw some National Guard people at the problem, under pressure, ostensibly, to get the border back open, but once again, that move was blatantly political since the guard is a “state” force and the border is under Federal jurisdiction (oil and water).
Hands were wrung, promises were made, and quickly forgotten, but in the end the people of both Peñasco and Arizona were the ones who suffered…not the people who made this fiasco happen. And then, lo and behold, when enough political hay had been made, ‘they’ re-opened the border, and we all began to pick up the pieces.
The illegal ‘crisis’ is still on going with no end in sight and ‘they’ can close us down again on a whim. What a crock o’ crap! Since the Mexican government won’t respond to the average Mexican’s complaints and the U.S. government obviously doesn’t really give a rip about the impact that the closure has on its citizens’ what is the answer?
The damage this closure has done will take a long time to heal, if ever. Nothing was gained from it. Much was lost. If you are reading this there is one, take away I, and many others, would like you to have…Peñasco as a special place. If you think so too, then do everything in your power to keep it healthy for your enjoyment and the well-being of its people. Do not let this egregious abuse of power go unchallenged or allow it to fade after the border reopened. Make some noise! Keep the pressure on your representatives, and the media, so that this never happens again! That’s just one man’s opinion, anyway.