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Opinion: Mayor Gerardo Sanchez: San Luis Port of Entry Needs Modernization

Victor Calderón/KAWC

The San Luis Port of Entry is critical to the San Luis economy and essential to our community’s continued growth. It is a gateway for trade and tourism that greatly contributes to Arizona’s and the nation’s economy.

Yet for the billions in economic impact this port of entry provides to our state and the country, it is also in serious need of major upgrades and modernization. The facilities are heavily congested, outdated, and make it challenging to efficiently meet the mission of Customs and Border Protection. The men and women staffing and manning the ports of entry deserve state-of-the-art infrastructure as the frontline of our nation’s security, trade and tourism.

For San Luis, Mexican visitors represent close to 70% of our sales tax revenues, thus when visitors have to wait well over 3 or 4 hours to cross the border legally, it has a negative impact on our retail sector, restaurants, and the tourism. Additionally, it is imperative that Customs and Border Protection personnel have modernized facilities and the latest in technology available so that they can do their job with certainty, safety and efficiency.

Investing in the San Luis Port of Entry has remained a priority for my administration. Last year, $152 million was included in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget to pay for phase 1 of the modernization project of the San Luis Port of Entry but the full build out of the project will require an additional $147 million. As mayor of San Luis, which is still on the pathway to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, I shared this message with Governor Ducey and members of the Arizona congressional delegation, including Senator Mark Kelly who has continued to focus on the needs of border communities like ours. Thanks to Senator Kelly’s commitment to San Luis and his hard work to secure $3.85 billion for ports of entry in this bipartisan infrastructure bill, our city is now able to fully fund the build out of the San Luis 1 Modernization Project. I am grateful for the leadership of our Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly who delivered on this bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Senator Kelly took a personal interest on this project even before he was sworn into office, making this and other Arizona port of entry projects a personal priority. With more than 2.5 million cars and over 7 million people crossing the border at San Luis, it is hard to imagine another project that can have such a significant impact on our local economy, the binational region and national security.

Infrastructure projects are investments in the future. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) will not only upgrade our nation’s infrastructure, it will also ensure that our region remains competitive. Thanks to the work of Senators Sinema and Kelly, this bipartisan infrastructure bill will address the needs of our community and their impact will be felt for generations to come.

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