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This Border Town Mayor Wanted More Roads. What He Got Was Razor Wire.

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13.02.2019

The following article is a written adaptation of a recent episode of What Next, Slate’s new daily news podcast. Listen to What Next for free every day via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, TuneIn, Stitcher, Overcast, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you want to get into Nogales, Arizona, from Mexico, you’ve got options.

“As a matter of fact, Nogales is the biggest port in the state of Arizona, and actually the model port of the state of Arizona. We have five port of entries in our city alone.”

That’s Arturo Garino. He’s the mayor of Nogales, a small border town 60 miles due south of Tucson. He says the ports of entry include a pedestrian walkway, a truck crossing, and an airport. They also have a border crossing for cattle.

Mayor Garino has lived in Nogales his whole life, and he has been the mayor under President Obama and under President Trump. I spoke to him this week on What Next, Slate’s new daily news podcast that I host.

While Nogales has only 20,000 people living on the U.S. side of the border, there are hundreds of thousands of people on the Mexican side.

“We don’t have a buffer zone like other states,” he says. “One street divides us. And in the middle of that street runs the border.”

The main street in Nogales actually runs all the way to Mexico City.

“Our corridor is a very, very busy corridor for trade, and for tourism and everything,” Mayor Garino tells me. “The main highway, it ends in Nogales, and that’s why we’re considered the CANAMEX Corridor—the American-Canadian-Mexican corridor. Billions and billions of dollars of trade go through Nogales. And this is trade that’s not only for the state of Arizona, but it’s for the whole nation.”

Nogales is home to the slats that President Trump keeps talking about. “We’ve had it for over 20 years,” Mayor Garino says. “I like to tell everybody we’re actually a city of 400,000 divided by a fence.”

The mayor says the Trump administration is pushing even fortified cities like Nogales to firm up their........

© Slate