Budget cuts could lead to longer wait times at Nogales ports of - Tucson News Now

Budget cuts could lead to longer wait times at Nogales ports of entry

NOGALES, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The sequestration has not kicked in yet, and business owners in Nogales say they're already seeing the effects of potential budget cuts on Morley Avenue.

80% of the business they get in Nogales comes from Mexican customers, and business owners blame the wait times at the border check points for the reason that business has been down by 30%.  They fear it will get even worse with the sequestration.

Business leader Bruce Bracker said he had heard stories about hour long wait times at the border by some of his customers.

Bracker said they were also seeing less lanes open for both traffic and pedestrians.   

Business owner Gregory Kory said he was also feeling the impact.

"Our customers in Mexico do have to wait, typically the wait time is half an hour to 45 minutes and we're losing customers because of that," said Kory.

In a memo posted on the Customs and Border Protection Agency's website at www.cbp.gov federal officials state they'll be "forced to cut expenditures significantly."                                                              

These cuts would impact field operations by requiring employees to take furloughs, reduce overtime, and put the department in a hiring freeze.

The memo addressed to officials in the travel industry goes on to warn that this could mean the loss of several thousand CBP officers at all ports of entry.

Officials say this would impact wait times for personal vehicles and pedestrians at all land border ports, leading to a potential gridlock during busy travel season.

The memo also warned of increased wait times at major international airports of up to 50% or more, with peak waits of up to 3-4 hours at some major airports.

Business owners in Nogales tell me they're already starting to see these delays.  

"You have to understand all this is happening even before the sequestration really takes effect, what that means is furloughs aren't going to start till the beginning of April," said Bracker.

In the memo, Homeland security officials say despite the cuts, security and anti-terrorism efforts would remain their highest priority.



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