NOGALES, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - A government shutdown could lead to a border crossing slowdown that you could feel at the grocery store, or in your bottom line as a business. That's the fear from business leaders in Nogales where they're worried about the impact at the ports of entry.
Trying to learn the impact on ports led us through more bureaucratic bounces than any story in recent memory...We called, locally, to DC and even to the White House office of management and budget. What we finally learned is that a shutdown raises the risk that long lines at the border will get even longer.
Billions of dollars in business funnels through ports on the Mexican border. Inspectors from Customs and Border Protection check people, cars and cargo trucks coming through.
Border business leaders say the Nogales Port director told them if there's a government shutdown, inspectors will still be on the job but there will be no room to add inspectors on overtime if there's a surge in traffic.
Bruce Bracker is on the Port Authority and runs the clothing store that's been in his family for almost a hundred years. He says slower border crossings mean slower business.
"It means fewer people are going to be walking into all the retail stores in Southern Arizona, including Tucson and that's going to mean fewer tax dollars going into the city coffers and into the county coffers and into the state coffers."
Border business leaders have been asking for a very long time to add inspectors here to bring more business across the border more quickly."
A huge share of the fruit and vegetables you buy come from Mexico through Nogales. Lance Jungmeyer, President of The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas says a border slowdown could be bad for your budget.
"If it gets really bad, if the trucks are really backed up and they're unable to be delivered there could be some impact on supply potential and pricing. If this were to happen in December of January the impact would be much more acute."
The effect on produce would be limited as long as any border slowdown is limited to the early part of the winter growing season. What will feel the effect anytime of the year is the billions in factory goods made in Mexico and shipped here under tight deadline.