Tranquil Arizona-Mexico Border Masks Nogales' Economic Woes

In Nogales, Mexico, the economy has taken a beating, partly due to declining tourism
In Nogales, Mexico, the economy has taken a beating, partly due to declining tourism

As the U.S. Supreme Court takes up Arizona's controversial immigration enforcement law, the violent drug war in Mexico continues, with the death toll over the past six years exceeding 50,000. Supporters of the Arizona law often talk about violence spilling over the border, but there has been very little impact on the U.S. side, where trade and tourism continue in spite of all the bad press. The biggest complaints there have to do with the economy.

A view of tranquility

People who live on the hillside in Nogales, Arizona look out on Mexico every day, and all looks tranquil.

Yet resident Mary Darling-McCune says people she meets in other parts of Arizona think her town is a danger zone. “Oh, they are horrified that I live down here, horrified.”

She believes hundreds of U.S. Border Patrol and other federal agents help to reduce crime, but she says she also feels comfortable going to Nogales, Mexico now and then.

“Even to be able to walk down the hill and cross over into Mexico to have lunch, which we frequently have done," Darling-McCuneI explained. "I do not feel that I am in any grave danger.”

But some of her neighbors are more cautious. Maria Duran, who was born in Mexico and often visits family there, keeps her home on the Arizona side. “I obtained legal residence and I live here very pleasantly. It is safe,” she stated.

This wall, constructed of steel pilings, separates the two cities.

U.S. law enforcement officials say construction of the wall has helped them to control illegal entry and drug trafficking in the town.

Most smuggling now happens in remote desert areas along the border.

But the image conveyed by the wall has had an impact on local people.

Economic woes

On one side of the border, in Nogales, Mexico, the economy has taken a beating because so few Americans are coming over now to make purchases at local pharmacies and stores.

A few years ago, these streets were crowded with American tourists, many of whom came to buy inexpensive medicine.

But pharmacy owner Sylvia says her business is now struggling to survive. “The business has changed a lot, sales are down," she said. "There hasn't been much tourism.”

She blames the economic downturn in the United States and the recent requirement that U.S. citizens crossing the border carry a passport, as well as lurid news reports about violence in Mexico. “Newspapers in the United States say there is a lot of violence in Mexico. This is a lie,” she said.

Although there have been some major crimes related to drug trafficking, she says Nogales is not like other Mexican border towns.

Two-way trade

But while local retailers may be struggling, Nogales plays a part in what amounts to a boom in bi-national trade.

Trains hauling goods to and from Mexico cross the border several times a day, along with hundreds of trucks, representing close to $20 billion in annual two-way trade at Nogales.

And that is just part of the overall $460 billion in overall U.S.-Mexico trade that gives officials in both countries reasons to keep the border orderly and secure.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs