LIFE ALONG THE BORDER: NOW

Border crossing a hassle, so why bother?

2011-12-13T00:00:00Z 2011-12-13T06:36:29Z Border crossing a hassle, so why bother?Brady McCombs Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 13, 2011 12:00 am  • 

DOUGLAS - Ana Rivera used to visit her parents in Agua Prieta every Friday.

She worked out at a gym in Mexico several times a week.

Now, she sees her family about once every three weeks and gets her exercise in Douglas.

Why? It takes too long to cross through the Douglas Port of Entry.

"It got to the point that it was impossible," said Rivera, 28, whose parents and two siblings live in Agua Prieta. "All of sudden you have to make a line to cross from Agua Prieta to Douglas and then another line to go from Douglas to Agua Prieta."

When she's invited to events like weddings or quinceañeras in Agua Prieta, she allows two hours to cross the border. She often arrives late.

Growing up two blocks from the border in Mexico, Rivera, her sister and her two brothers would go to Douglas to watch movies. They would leave home 15 to 30 minutes before the movie was to start.

Rivera first noticed the changes in late 2001, when she was a student at Cochise College in Douglas but still living with her parents in Agua Prieta. The Sept. 11 attacks led to increased fears that terrorists could slip through the porous Southwest border - and increased enforcement.

She would have to leave at 4:30 a.m. to make her 7 a.m. class, even though the college was only about 20 minutes from her house. Lines sometimes stretched 20 to 30 blocks into Mexico.

Until the last couple of years, it was still easy to cross into Mexico, usually taking only a few minutes. Then, in 2009, the Obama administration beefed up checks of people and cars heading into Mexico, trying to stop the illegal exportation of guns, ammo and cash that help fuel the bloody wars between feuding drug cartels.

Before Rivera meets friends from Agua Prieta to go to the movies or out to dinner, they constantly text about how long the lines are at the ports.

Walking across is usually faster than driving, but requires somebody to drive you around.

Rivera's mother used to come and have lunch with her daughter in Douglas whenever she felt like it. Not any more.

"Having lunch, a simple thing like that, is not possible," Rivera said. "You think about the gas you are going to spend, the time you are going to be in line. So, you save it for special occasions."

Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or bmccombs@azstarnet.com

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