U.S. traders happy to see Mexican shoppers return as border travel restrictions lifted

Residents of Juarez are moved to restore family links, to be able to cross the border for the first time in 20 months

EL PASO, Texas (Border report) – It was barely 9:30 am and Luz Gallardo was already returning to Mexico with a cart full of items bought from discount stores in South El Paso.

“You better buy in bulk so you can resell it at affordable prices there. […] Wrapping paper, dollar items, cheap stuff, ”she said.

Monday marked the first time in 20 months that residents of Juarez like Gallardo have been able to enter the United States by land for non-essential reasons like shopping and seeing family members as long as they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. A quarrel that cost border traders dearly and temporarily severed ties between families whose members were on both sides of the Rio Grande.

“My niece is hospitalized. I came to see her, ”said Cynthia Torres, also a resident of Juarez who entered El Paso early Monday morning with her mother and child. “I had not planned to come but I take advantage (of the decline in travel restrictions) to see her. I think (the reopening) is good because I have family on this side of the border, and also for shopping. ”

The removal of travel restrictions went smoothly and without the dreaded long lines for visitors to cross ports of entry, border officials and U.S. border protection and customs officials said.

Average wait times for pedestrians were 20 to 30 minutes on Monday mornings, let alone for those passing in vehicles.

A CBP spokesperson said foreigners coming for the first time since non-essential travel restrictions were put in place in March 2020 quickly presented their documents and immunization status. This has helped speed up fully staffed international bridges in the El Paso area, the spokesperson said.

Exact border crossing figures were not immediately available.

Mexican buyers make up between 8% and 14% of El Paso’s $ 13 billion a year retail economy, according to studies from the University of Texas at El Paso. Local malls, outlet stores, hotels, and restaurants benefit these shoppers, as do stores in South El Paso, close to international bridges.

“It’s nice to be with our neighbors,” said David Jerome, President and CEO of the El Paso House. “Our economy is doing pretty well, it’s coming back (from the COVID-19 pandemic). We have more jobs than people, so it’s good to see the border reopen from that perspective. The other thing is areas like restaurants, hotels and retail, a lot of their business is done with our neighbors to the south, so it’s good that they can take care of everything again. his clients.

Danny, the manager of Casa Victoria on South El Paso Street, said the removal of restrictions comes just in time – with the holiday shopping season looming. On Monday, he said it was too early to say how much his sales will increase, but he hopes they will.

Phil, a taxi driver based at Sixth Street in El Paso, also said he hopes El Paso’s economy will be boosted by the removal of travel restrictions at the border.

“Everyone is happy. Businesses have suffered a lot during the pandemic, some have even closed,” he said. “As for us, we do not know if there will be an increase or not, but I am happy that people are free to come and shop. The savings of the two towns (Juarez and El Paso) depend on each other. I think it will work out well for all concerned.

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