CA Shop Owners Say Border Patrol Scaring Away Customers

Business owners in San Juan Capistrano aren't appreciative of the routine checks that are hurting their bottom line.

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Customer frisking is not helping small business owners near the border between California and Mexico and they want it to stop.

Store owners at Alipaz Plaza at Del Obispo and Alipaz streets told Mayor Lon Uso during his Mayor's Walk this week that they want the city to ask the Border Patrol to stop going to the shopping center.

"Last year I started hearing my customers say, 'Don't go to Alipaz Plaza, that's where (the Border Patrol agents) are hanging out,'" said Isabel Rizo Patron, owner of Isabel's Beauty Salon.

Rizo Patron said she has a diverse group of customers but that many of her clients are Hispanic and don't like to be in an area frequented by the Border Patrol.

The Border Patrol not only supervises border and interior checkpoints, such as the one a few miles south of San Clemente, but also inspects city streets much like a police force would, said Ralph Desio, a Border Patrol spokesman.

He said the Border Patrol often checks shopping centers throughout Orange County as part of an increased push to check for illegal goods and immigrants beyond the borders.

Uso listened to the concerns of Rizo Patron and others but said there's not much he can do when it comes to the agency formally known as U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

"We don't determine what they do or where they do it," Uso said.

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