- The US Senate voted to spend $600 million to beef up border security
- The number of legal visitors crossing from Mexico to Arizona has dropped 17 percent
- A decrease in Mexican visitors is hurting the southern Arizona economy
- Carry the right documents to speed border crossings from Mexico into the US
Arizona’s tough new immigration law and an increased emphasis on US border security are keeping legal Mexican visitors away. A huge drop in the number of legal visitors from Mexico is hurting southern Arizona businesses, which are already struggling in a bad economy.
US Senate Passes $600 Million Border Security Bill
During the first week of August 2010, the Senate voted to spend $600 million on increased border security. The plan includes $176 million for 1,000 new Border Patrol agents, $89 million for 500 new customs and immigration personnel and $32 million for unmanned planes, or drones. An additional $196 million will go to the US Justice Department to increase the number of US marshals, FBI, DEA and ATF agents along the border.
New York Democrat Senator Sen. Charles E. Schumer introduced the bill with the idea that taking a firm stand against illegal immigration was the first step to comprehensive immigration reform. Funding for the bill will come from higher fees on visas for companies that employ foreign workers.
The bill must still pass the House before becoming law. Meanwhile, President Obama is sending up to 1,200 National Guard troops to help guard the border until new agents are hired and trained.
Focus on Border Security Slows Legal Visitor Traffic
While the effect of increased border security on the traffic of illegal immigrants is unclear, it’s certain that the flow of legal visitors from Mexico has slowed. According to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data, in the months since Arizona’s Governor signed the state’s new immigration law in April 2010, visits from Mexico to Arizona are down 17 percent compared to last year. That amounts to about 12,500 fewer people crossing the border each day.
After Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed the state’s new immigration law, the Mexican government issued an alert, cautioning citizens that Arizona authorities could stop and detain foreigners in the state for failing to carry immigration documents. The President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon warned the new law would strain Mexico and US relations. Mexican state governors boycotted the annual US-Mexico Border Governor conference to protest the law.