Non-essential US-Mexico border crossings restricted - Albuquerque Journal

Non-essential US-Mexico border crossings restricted

Cedar Attanasio/AP
Silvia Shadden, 68, in blue, pulls a cart as she leaves a U.S. customs checkpoint in El Paso, Texas after a she went to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, for a medical appointment on Friday. Shadden, of El Paso, crosses the border weekly for a vitamin injection that’s far cheaper in Mexico.

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

The United States and Mexico announced Friday that nonessential travel along their shared, 2,000-mile border will be severely restricted to control the spread of coronavirus, but trade activity, cargo shipments and work-related crossings will not be affected.

The new restrictions, which took effect at midnight Friday, prohibit recreational and tourist travel, similar to restrictions enacted earlier this week along the U.S.-Canadian border. But there will be no ban on people crossing between the U.S. and Mexico for work or other essential activities, and there will be no halt to commercial traffic, acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Friday morning.

“We want to make sure that cargo continues, trade continues, health care workers continue to be able to traverse that border,” Wolf told reporters at the White House on Friday, according to the Associated Press. “But tourism, some recreational activities and other things need to stop during this crisis.”

The announcement ignited rampant rumors that the border is being shut down, something local leaders are now scrambling to correct, said Jerry Pacheco, executive director of the International Business Accelerator and president of the Border Industrial Association.

“We’re trying to quell those rumors,” Pacheco told the Journal. “All of a sudden, there’s panic that the border is shutting down. But it’s not true.”

Commercial goods transported on trains and trucks won’t be affected, nor will citizens, legal residents, people with legal work permits, and people considered “essential” or who are traveling for medical or educational reasons, Pacheco said.

In fact, Santa Teresa Port Director Fernando Thome told Pacheco business at the border remains normal.

“Thome said cargo crossing and business will go on as usual,” Pacheco said. “There are no delays happening now.”

By excluding commercial traffic from the ban, the two governments substantially softened the economic effects.

Mexico and the U.S. have more than $600 billion in annual cross-border trade.

That’s critical for New Mexico, which shipped a record $2.39 billion in products to its southern neighbor last year, accounting for about 50% of all state exports in 2019.

Most of that trade is coming from southern New Mexico, particularly from the 60-plus companies now operating in the Santa Teresa border industrial parks, which continue to expand at a rapid clip, Pacheco said. Four new buildings are currently under construction at the parks and more businesses are also going up in San Jeronimo on the Mexican side of the Santa Teresa border crossing.

Union Pacific as well is investing another $20 million to expand its massive, intermodal rail yard, which operates on the north side of the parks.

“Most of the new developments are scheduled to come online over the summer,” Pacheco said. “Up until now, we’ve been doing exceedingly well. There’s more activity underway at Santa Teresa now than in the history of the parks.”

Still, Santa Teresa-based businesses, and many more in El Paso and Juárez, could be significantly impacted by the temporary shutdown announced this week by major automakers in the U.S., including Ford and General Motors, to protect workers and help contain the coronavirus.

“This area is very tied into the auto industry on both sides of the border,” Pacheco said. “We have a bunch of suppliers in Santa Teresa who make components that go into the automotive maquilas (factories) in Mexico and the shutdown will affect all that activity in the border region. That hasn’t happened yet, but if the shutdown extends for a period of time, it will certainly impact businesses here.”

Although trade between the U.S. and Mexico won’t be affected by the new travel restrictions, the border economy will feel the pinch as people in both countries stop crossing back and forth to shop at stores and patronize other businesses.

“For the tourism and retail sectors, that bites,” Pacheco said. “Businesses on our side that cater to shoppers will have repercussions. If you want to cross over from Juárez to shop at Walmart in El Paso, you can’t do that now.”

But with most people already working remotely and staying at home to avoid the coronavirus contagion, a lot of the impact from travel restrictions has already hit border businesses, said Paola Avila, chair of the Border Trade Alliance.

“People are not crossing, anyway,” Avila told The Associated Press. “This is the right thing to do. If you don’t have to cross, don’t.”

The U.S. State Department also issued a new travel alert on Thursday urging Americans not to go abroad under any circumstances and to return home if they are already abroad unless they plan to remain overseas.


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
COVID hospitalizations most since first of year
ABQnews Seeker
Patients lashing out at health care ... Patients lashing out at health care workers over long wait times
2
Photo of gun in backpack stirs fears at La ...
ABQnews Seeker
Parents, students assail school stance on ... Parents, students assail school stance on matter
3
Operation Holiday Cheer: Send season's greetings to NM veterans
ABQnews Seeker
Let them know we appreciate their ... Let them know we appreciate their service for our country – or for caring for the home's residents
4
ACLU: Inquiry needed into BCSO shooting
ABQnews Seeker
Death of 18-year-old requires independent investigation, ... Death of 18-year-old requires independent investigation, group says
5
NM House advances new map for 70-seat chamber over ...
ABQnews Seeker
Map still has to be approved ... Map still has to be approved by the Senate and the governor in order to take
6
‘Disrespect’ a factor in fatal shooting
ABQnews Seeker
Detectives arrested a man accused of ... Detectives arrested a man accused of fatally shooting another man with not one, but two guns for disrespecting him last weekend at an apartment ...
7
Senator, Governor's Office escalate spending dispute
ABQnews Seeker
Sen. Jacob Candelaria accused of grandstanding ... Sen. Jacob Candelaria accused of grandstanding in court filing
8
APD: Videos show man pummeling infant son
ABQnews Seeker
Seen saying 'die' to child Seen saying 'die' to child
9
PNM-Avangrid merger rejected by PRC
ABQnews Seeker
Commission cites 'demonstrated record' of poor ... Commission cites 'demonstrated record' of poor behavior from companies