CASA GRANDE — Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday brushed aside concerns that a slowdown at border crossings into Arizona engineered by federal officials will affect visitors to Arizona — and supplies for a new auto manufacturing plant here.
“There are real issues at the border, both humanitarian and security-wise,” the governor told Capitol Media Services in response to questions about five-hour delays in cars getting through checkpoints at Nogales. That is five times longer than what normally occurs at this time of the year according to statistics by Customs and Border Protection.
“My team has talked with CBP,” Ducey said. “We’re confident that they’re on it. They’re doing everything possible to make sure that we’re allowing commerce to flow but also protecting public safety. And we’re going to be supportive of that effort.”
His remarks came on the heels of a formal launching of construction efforts by Lucid Motors to build a $700 million facility to build vehicles.
The governor said Arizona beat out 60 other markets to land the lucrative facility. And Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson said part of the decision to land here was the proximity to Mexico and the fact that some of the parts can be built in Sonora.
That theme was echoed by Sonora Gov. Claudia Pavlovich who boasted of more than 100 Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers in her state.
That plant won’t roll its first vehicle off the production line until close to a year from now.
In the interim, though, Arizona remains dependent on tourism and shoppers from Mexico to fuel the state’s economy and, in particular, communities in Southern Arizona. Ducey indicated he believes that whatever is happening now at the border is a temporary situation.
“You’re speaking about what’s happening today in Arizona,” he said. “It’s in response to an issue on which we’ve been briefed on and you’ll find out about shortly.”
Ducey would not comment on reports that the decision to close multiple lanes in the border crossings is a deliberate move by CBP to slow the flow of people driving from Mexico and seeking amnesty.
“What I’m going to say is, CBP is acting in the best interests of public safety,” he said.
“It has caused delays at our southern border,” Ducey said. And the governor said he is “confident” the issue “will be resolved.”
Pavlovich, who also was at the event here, declined to answer any questions.
The first lane shutdowns started last week as CBP said they were reacting to “a significant increase of asylum seekers using vehicle lanes to circumvent the immigration process.”
“Individuals without proper documentation attempted to evade inspection by running through vehicle lanes disrupting normal operations,” the announcement said. “This resulted in the closure of lanes and increased wait times.”
In a prepared statement last week, Guadalupe Ramirez, director of field operations for CBP, said the failure to comply with proper procedures “overwhelms the ports of entry and jeopardizes the safety and security of our employees and the public.”
“We will not allow ports to be overrun, and are prepared for large groups and caravans attempting to violate our security measures,” Ramirez said.