By Molly Bilker
NOGALES, MEXICO — The pedestrian crossing line into the United States winds out of the port of entry building and into the city on an early weekday afternoon. As those waiting mingle in line, others return to Mexico coming the other way, arms heavy with shopping bags.
Just beyond the start of the line, Micki Valdez, 47, sits with family members on a bench. They’ve just returned from a shopping trip to the United States, where she spent more than $400 on items including suitcases and beachwear for a planned family vacation. Valdez works in a maquila, a factory built along the border, where she makes 1,200 pesos (about $70) a week and crosses the border once a month to shop.
“With my savings, I’m able to buy more,” Valdez said. “It doesn’t make sense when we make so little, but that’s the reality of living on the border. Buying in the United States is just cheaper.”