After news of travel restrictions to be eased, border shops ready to welcome back Mexican customers

After news of travel restrictions to be eased, border shops ready to welcome back Mexican customers

While Canadian and Mexican visitors have been allowed to enter the U.S. for purposes deemed essential by the government, only in the coming weeks will fully vaccinated travelers be allowed to enter via land for shopping and other “non-essential” purposes, the Biden administration announced this week.

The announcement comes at great relief to small business owners along the southern border region, who have “long-relied on foot traffic from Mexican consumers to stay afloat,” El Paso Matters’ René Kladzyk reports. Restrictions have already come at a great cost to the region’s economy. The report said that more than 45 small businesses in the downtown El Paso area have closed.

University of Texas at El Paso professor of economics Tom Fullerton told El Paso Matters that the total economic losses stemming from the restrictions could total hundreds of millions of dollars. As noted yesterday, when the previous administration shut down one border crossing over the 2018 Thanksgiving weekend in its attempt to block asylum-seekers, local businesses lost an estimated $5.3 million.

“At Simple Mobile, a cell phone store on El Paso Street near the international bridge, Mexican consumers made up 80% of sales, according to shop owner Miguel Lara,” El Paso Matters reported. Lara seemed to be in disbelief about whether the Biden administration’s announcement this week was real. “It’s been really hard,” he told El Paso Matters. “It’s been hard for a year and a half.”

Rep. Veronica Escobar, who has been a champion for immigrant and Latino families while serving in the House, agrees. “She said she has been pushing on the White House ‘to get this done,’” Bailey Schulz and Lauren Villagran report in El Paso Times.

“For too long, El Paso and all border communities have really suffered,” Escobar said in the report. “Our economy has suffered. Our families have suffered. People have been separated from their loved ones. Our Downtown businesses have really struggled; many have closed. So it’s long past time.” She said the region was “eager to get back to normal. And normal means cross-border movement.” Del Rio official Blanca Larson told the Associated Press that “[a]long the border, we’re like more of one community than two different communities.” There, “Mexican visitors account for about 65% of retail sales,” the report said.

Like also noted yesterday, the upcoming changes don’t affect the status of Title 42, an unsound policy implemented by the prior administration that’s used that pandemic as an excuse to quickly deport asylum-seekers in violation of their rights. Even as officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci have cast doubt on its continued use, the Biden administration has kept that policy in place. 

“It’s great news that our ports of entry will be reopened for travel and business, which is the economic lifeblood of so many border communities,” former Housing and Urban Development Sec. Julián Castro tweeted in response to the Biden administration’s announcement. “Now our ports of entry should reopen to allow people to make an asylum claim. Title 42 is a stain on this nation and it should end.”

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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