Arizona: Border Focus Shifts to Economic Development

US immigration reform

With illegal immigration numbers dropping along the Arizona border, local politicians are moving the focus on Mexico from border protection to trade relations.

Coming together in early April, mayors and other leaders in the Tuscon, Arizona border area discussed immigration in the context of economics. The southern Arizona economy will improve as the area increases its trade with Mexico, said Arturo Garino, mayor of Nogales, Arizona. Because Mexico’s population includes an emerging middle class, the purchasing power of Mexican consumers can benefit the area.

The focus on economic development is related to the fact that illegal immigration into Arizona is dropping. In cases where immigrants do cross into Arizona without documentation, the motivation most often centers on providing for the family.

While border crossing in Arizona has dropped, crossings in the southernmost tip of Texas are up considerably, according to reports. Because of this, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has transferred about 100 agents into the south Texas region, some of whom had been on duty in the Tucson area.

According to reports, around 4,000 border patrol agents were assigned to the Tucson area last fiscal year. This is compared to only around 3,000 border patrol agents assigned to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. The Rio Grande sector saw 154,000 arrests compared to Tucson’s 121,000 immigration arrests last fiscal year.

Most of the immigrants who are crossing the Rio Grande Valley illegally are from South America. At the midpoint of the current fiscal year, the area has already seen 95,000 arrests and the seizure of more than 300,000 pounds of marijuana.