Heat related illnesses reported at San Luis Port prompt concerns

Heat related illnesses reported at San Luis Port prompt concerns

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San Luis--The long wait in hot temperatures is causing some border crossers to faint at the San Luis port of entry pedestrian lane.

"It's too hot. Last time I think that someone had a heatstroke because the ambulance arrived and you just get too dehydrated," Maria Peña said.

"It had just been too hot recently and too much waiting," Pablo Orta said. "Yesterday I waited about an hour and a half in line."

In a closed meeting to the public, U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva met with Chris Leon, the assistant director of the port, to discuss the health risks of on-going wait times for American travelers.

The meeting came after multiple constituents approached the congressman describing unsafe heat conditions, fainting episodes and three hour wait times in the blazing summer heat for American citizens and legal permanent residents trying to re-enter into the U.S.

"For older folks and people with disabilities, weather is a factor but its not the overriding factor, they have special needs that we need to accommodate by law for no other reason," Grijalva said.

Officials said the issue could discourage Mexican shoppers to cross over and visit stores in San Luis which in turn affects the city's economy.

Grijalva said even though the port of entry officials lack resources they have plans set in place.

"They will place a shaded area that will cover up 500 people and water fountains to begin to lessen the health risk of standing out there," he said.

Grijalva said reports of commercial traffic decreasing through the San Luis port of entry was also discussed.

"I think many of us are urging Mexico. I think the municipal president of San Luis has made a commitment that it will come out of local resources than to a private person or developer that will then charge a toll to pay for the infrastructure," he said.

He said even though making retired Americans stand for hours in the heat is not a national security priority, losing important cross-border traffic can affect both countries economically.

City of San Luis officials said 80 percent of their revenue comes from sales tax from visitors.

CBP officials are looking to build a dedicated lane for people with disabilities and the elderly within 3 to 4 months.

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