Originally published on Fronteras Desk March 20.
The U.S. and Mexico announced the closing of the shared border to shoppers and tourists alike in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The response is intended not to shatter cross-border economies, but experts say the economic impact in Arizona is inescapable.
Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf emphasized that trade won’t be affected.
"Essential commercial activities will not be impacted. We will be continue to maintain a strong and secure economic supply chain across our borders," Wolf said.
But for Arizona, the losses translate to $7 million of revenue from Mexican shoppers and tourists every day. Some cities like Nogales, Arizona, rely on sales tax entirely for their government budget, and much of that comes from Mexican buyers.
"This is necessary, but what we need is for the federal government to do everything possible to minimize the lost wages for workers and the lost revenue for businesses," said Glen Hamer, Arizona Chamber of Commerce president.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada says this shutdown is unprecedented.
"We’ll find out how bad it is," Estrada said.
Like Hamer, Estrada understands the need for the closure but hopes it’s short.
"It’s going to be a real challenge and this is a challenge we’ve never had. Like a double whammy, we’re dealing now with the coronavirus and now we’re dealing with virtually in a way a closed border," he said.
The administration has said both countries will review whether or not to continue the closure in 30 days.