Devastated Businesses and Political Leaders Call on Federal Government to Reopen US-Mexico Border Crossing – NBC 7 San Diego
In solidarity, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria stood alongside National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina, and County Supervisor Nora Vargas, calling on the federal government to ease travel restrictions between Mexico and the United States.
COVID-19 travel restrictions have been in place since March 2020 and have had a devastating impact on the economy of South Bay businesses dependent on visitors to Mexico. The restrictions only allow essential travel.
“We hope that our friends in the federal government, the two federal governments, can work together and quickly to reopen the border as quickly as possible. It is essential for our economic recovery that this happens, ”said Gloria.
The group held an afternoon press conference after visiting a vaccination center at the San Ysidro pedestrian port of entry, where thousands of Mexican nationals are vaccinated.
“People are getting vaccinated in Tijuana and northern Baja, that’s good news, so now we have to open this border. We have to be open now, ”Dedina said.
“The economic impact has been devastating for our community. Our residents waited patiently, weathered the storm, they took advice, ”said Vargas.
According to the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce, 197 businesses have closed since travel restrictions were put in place.
The region typically generates an average annual revenue of $ 895 million in an average year. Last year, revenues fell to $ 250 million, a 72% drop, according to Jason Wells, executive director of the chamber.
“Emotionally, we are exhausted. Exhausted and frustrated would probably be the first two words that come to mind, ”Wells said.
Olivia Campos owes Carolin Shoes on San Ysidro Blvd., the heart of the local business district for 12 years. She says her business has seen a 50% drop in revenue since the travel restrictions were put in place.
“It’s really sad and stressful, to be honest. We worry every day about how long we can keep the business open. Our business has gone very badly since Mexicans do not cross the border, ”Campos said.
Campos said she had to cut employees’ hours and that she and her husband were at the company seven days a week. Sometimes they close early because there are just no customers.
“I think safety is always important, but I think if people are vaccinated I think they should let them cross the border because supposedly we can already take our mask off,” Campos said.
With thousands of people vaccinated south of the border, business owners are frustrated that border restrictions remain in place.
“We’re really talking about recovery, not just for the San Ysidro, Baja area, we’re talking about the nation as a whole. We want all our small businesses to have the opportunity to bring in goods, customers and a good quality of life, ”Sotelo-Solis.
“If we are now over 80% vaccinated in San Diego, then we are protected. So we really hope and pray and expect them to run out of excuses, ”Wells said.
Gloria said he contacted the Biden administration and legislative leaders in an attempt to draw attention to the issue. He called on the federal government for any kind of guidance or metric standard to speed up a reopening.
“Tell me what level of vaccination we need to get on both sides of the border. Tell me what conditions we need. If we had that information, it would be a hope for many of the small businesses we are talking about. I hope they don’t currently have one. The best solution is to reopen. Other than that, give us some metrics that we can work on, ”Gloria said.