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Mayor Gloria thanks federal officials for lifting border travel restrictions

Cars wait in line to cross the San Ysidro border to San Diego, Aug. 3, 2018.
Katie Schoolov
Cars wait in line to cross the San Ysidro border to San Diego, Aug. 3, 2018.

Following the federal government's decision to lift non-essential travel restrictions at U.S. ports of entry, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria thanked federal and local leaders Wednesday.

"For far too long, the restrictions at our border separated families and devastated businesses that rely on cross-border commerce," Gloria said. "Since I took office in December, and on my most recent trip to Washington D.C., I have been meeting with officials at all levels of the federal government to help get these restrictions lifted.

"I want to thank Secretary Mayorkas and the entire Biden-Harris Administration for hearing our call and taking this action, which will allow families to be reunited, businesses to get back to a sense of normalcy, and our local economy to fully recover," he said.

Gloria also thanked South Bay mayors and Vice Chair of the County Board of Supervisors Nora Vargas for their partnership in the effort to lift the restrictions.

The federal government announced on Wednesday that it would finally lift non-essential travel restrictions at U.S. ports of entry starting in November. San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria thanked federal and local leaders but said the restrictions lasted too long. We look at what impact opening the border will have on San Diego. Meanwhile, federal agents are wrapping up their on-the-ground portion of the investigation into the plane crash in Santee that killed two and injured others, but many questions remain. Plus, some California cities see Project Homekey–an effort to fight homelessness across the state–as a way to turn neglected properties into something that improves the community as a whole.

The much-anticipated federal announcement comes on the heels of Gloria's trip two weeks ago to Washington, D.C., where he met with federal officials, including White House staff and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner, to advocate for an end to the travel restrictions, imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gloria said the restrictions have greatly impacted San Diego families who live binationally and harmed businesses in border communities such as San Ysidro and Otay Mesa that rely on cross-border commerce.

In the mayor's "Back to Work SD" plan — which he introduced with the intent to provide a framework for economic recovery from the pandemic — he called for reopening the border to non-essential travel. Gloria has also signed and sent letters to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, including a letter signed jointly by the Mayors of South Bay cities.

Additionally, in August, Gloria passed a resolution at the U.S. Conference of Mayors that urged the Biden administration to lift the non- essential travel restrictions.

Jason Wells with the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce said businesses will never recuperate what they lost, but they’ll be able to get their lives back on track.

“To get our binational lives back to being binational lives and with that is every interaction. Between seeing your grandparents, crossing over to get a taco on your lunch break,to coming here to do your banking. We need to get back to that,” he said.

We spoke to cross-border citizens who were happy to hear about the news.

Gloria Cabreras says she’s hoping more tourism from people means more hours at work.

“I work at a restaurant in San Ysidro and it’s very slow. They only give me a little bit of hours, but I think it will start to pick up,” Cabreras said.

Although this is news she’s been waiting for, she has one reservation.

“The lines to cross over here are really long and they’re going to get long now,” she said.

Wells says wait times are a huge concern for border crossers, but he’s hoping U.S. Customs and Border Protection will increase personnel to alleviate the burden.

“Now we’re trying to figure out what exactly that date will be. How the verification of vaccinations will work,” Wells said.

Mayor Gloria thanks federal officials for lifting border travel restrictions