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Lukeville crossing reopens as Pima County leaders warn area will keep bearing the brunt

The Lukeville Port of Entry reopened early Thursday morning in southern Arizona. It’s a busy thoroughfare for travelers coming both north and south that was closed early last month amid an increase in migrants and asylum seekers arriving nearby.

Lukeville serves thousands of Arizona tourists heading to the Sonoran beach destination known as Rocky Point, and Sonoran visitors headed north.

Pima County Supervisor Adelita Grijalva says she welcomes the reopening, but without more action from Washington, D.C., on immigration reform, these issues will persist. 

"There’s going to be a lot of dragging of feet, and unfortunately, I think Lukeville, and counties like Pima, are going to be the victims," she said.

Grijalva says families have been separated by the closure, including one Ajo resident who couldn’t visit his 6-year-old son just across the border in Sonoyta, Sonora.

A restaurant owner in Ajo had to make due without his chef, who was stuck across the border.

Meanwhile, locals on both sides have been feeling the economic impacts. Chris Villarreal lives in Sonoyta and commutes to work at a gas station about 30 miles up the road in Why, Arizona. He couldn’t come for a month.

"In my opinion, I think they should never have closed the border, you know, because this is something that’s always going to happen, with people crossing and all that. It should have just stayed open," he said.

The closure also affected businesses.

Hector Vazquez Del Mercado is the head of the Las Palomas Resort in Puerto Peñasco.

"We estimate here in Peñasco that the tourist sector lost around $14 million," he said.

Vazquez Del Mercado says many Arizona visitors canceled their reservations for January. Now, business owners are focused on reminding people the border is open again.

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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.