February 22, 2024

Puerto Peñasco was a small fishing village in Sonora, Mexico that developers turned into an affordable vacation town in the 1990s. It was marketed to Americans for its proximity to the border with Arizona, and has since become a popular destination for residents of Tucson and Phoenix. The town, sometimes referred to as “Arizona’s beach,” is filled with condos and beach resorts catering to American tourists.

In early December, the port of entry in Lukeville, Arizona, the most convenient crossing point to Puerto Peñasco, was closed indefinitely due to the reassignment of agents to process migrant influx. The closure caused an uproar in Arizona, with some residents criticizing the mismanaged Southern border.

The closure also affected Puerto Peñasco, which relies heavily on American visitors; the town receives about two million visitors per year, many of them from Arizona. Members of the Tohono O’odham Nation, who live on both sides of the border, also use the Lukeville crossing. The closure disrupted the interconnectedness of communities on both sides of the border.

The closure was attributed to staffing issues, as the C.B.P.’s Tucson sector recorded more migrant encounters than anywhere else on the southern border. The reassigned agents are expected to apprehend and process migrants in the area.

The closure has become a significant political issue in Arizona, a swing state. The right-wing media has portrayed the closure as a symbol of border mismanagement, while Democrats have been largely silent on the issue.

It is uncertain when the Lukeville crossing will reopen, but in the meantime, Puerto Peñasco has seen a decrease in visitors, while migrants continue to line up in the desert waiting to be taken into Border Patrol custody. The closure may be a sign of more disruptions at border crossings in the future.