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Trump's wall strikes sour note with some Arizonans

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 - 03:25

Arizona businesses are trying to attract more Mexican shoppers across the border amid Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump's vow to build a wall. Vanessa Johnston reports.

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(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will have Mexico pay for that wall, mark my words." It's been Donald Trump's rallying cry since he first launched his 2016 presidential bid. The Republican front-runner said Mexico was sending mostly 'drugs, crime and rapists' to the United States... But to many in Arizona, the border represents something else...a vital tourism economy, funded by Mexicans. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF VISIT TUCSON, FELIPE GARCIA, SAYING: "They're bringing about 2.3 billion dollars - and that's with a 'b'." Felipe Garcia is executive vice president of Visit Tucson. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF VISIT TUCSON, FELIPE GARCIA, SAYING: "This is just individuals with money in their pockets crossing the border and shopping in our stores here in Arizona." In fact, far from trying to keep Mexicans out...many Arizona businesses are trying to keep them coming in... Training employees how to treat the Mexican customer and offering discount shopping cards. Denese Balmer is store manager of Tommy Bahama at Tucson's luxury La Encantada shopping center. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DENESE BALMER, TOMMY BAHAMA STORE MANAGER AT LA ENCANTADA MALL, SAYING: "We've participated in several trade shows across the border, fashion shows, so that we get our products out there so they're aware of what is available to them, so that they want to travel to Tucson." Some government officials are even trying to extend the so-called 'border crossing zone.' Under current rules, Mexicans with a visa can only go within 75 miles of the Arizona border. To visit further north, they need ANOTHER visa. While Trump and rival Ted Cruz say they only want to block illegal migration... Some fear the heated campaign rhetoric could inadvertently deter legal visitors as well. Desiree Noriega, manager of a Tucson Aveda store, says Mexicans account for 20-30 percent of her clientele. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DESIREE NORIEGA, AVEDA STORE MANAGER AT LA ENCANTADA MALL, SAYING: "I just feel that our economy has suffered so much over the past eight years to get to where it's at today that we need to be really careful about how we decide to proceed with our relationship with Mexico, because they support us in many positive ways." Many Mexicans cross into the border town of Nogales, Arizona, daily -- on foot or by car. Shoppers say they prefer the U.S.-side, because products are cheaper and better quality. They also say they're paying close attention to the presidential election...and Trump's pledge to build a wall isn't sitting well with some. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) MEXICAN TOURIST, MARIA DOLORES VARGAS, SAYING: "I think it's a bit foolish what Trump is saying...we could be shopping in Mexico, so he would make his own economy suffer." (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) MEXICAN TOURIST, ALYDIA CAZACIA, SAYING: "Let's just hope he doesn't become president!" But Marie Flores, who visits Arizona three times a week, has another view. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) MEXICAN TOURIST, MARIA FLORES, SAYING: "The truth is it really doesn't affect me. It's more for immigrants that Donald Trump wants to build a wall." As the race forges ahead, Arizona voters may have to weigh dueling forces at the border... Upping security with a wall... Nats - Trump: "The wall just got ten feet higher!" ...or staying open for business.

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Trump's wall strikes sour note with some Arizonans

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 - 03:25