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Local leaders say Arizona's ports of entry need more support from Arizona, federal government

Communities along the Arizona-Sonora border say they need more coordination from the state and the federal government for their ports of entry. 

The move comes from port authorities in Yuma, Nogales and Douglas, who say these are vital business and tourism hubs that saw more than $19 billion in trade with Mexico last year.

But they say border communities and economies are also being impacted by policy changes. 

"We realized there's a need for a unified, combined port authority in regard to working together on issues that not only affect our trade, but also the logistics and stakeholders for the area," said Matias Rosales, chairman of the Greater Yuma Port Authority and a San Luis city councilman.

Rosales says while each location has different needs, they share similar concerns.

"A lot of other issues like the workforce, the policies that allow trade to come in and out, all of that affects us all equally," he said. 

Rosales and other port representatives met in Tucson to hammer out a coordination plan. He says the number of people crossing the border in the Yuma area for tourism, trade and work has increased substantially over the last several years, even with pandemic lulls.

Their joint resolution released this month calls for more Customs and Border Protection staffing to keep up with the demand. It also says communities on both sides are working together to address issues like wastewater management and broadband access, and calls on government entities to assist in the effort.

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Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.