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Border & Immigration

San Ysidro Businesses Struggle With Limits On Non-Essential Border Crossings

San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce sign is photographed on April 21, 2021.
Alexandra Rangel
San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce sign is photographed on April 21, 2021.

Restrictions on non-essential crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border have been extended through May 21. The Department of Homeland Security says it’s to deter the spread of COVID-19.

U.S. citizens and people with working visas can come and go as they please, but tourist visa holders don’t have the same privilege. And those with tourist visas happen to be the people who keep the economy going for the businesses in San Ysidro.

Jason Wells, executive director of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber currently serves about 800 businesses. He said the majority are in a two mile radius of the border crossing.

“You cut off 95% of your customer base ... how are you going to survive?” Wells said.

Restrictions on non-essential crossings at the U.S. Mexico border have been extended through May 21.

Sunny Gakhreja, the owner of Sunny Perfumes and Maya’s Pizza said he’s put everything he has into keeping his doors open.

“It's a hard situation, you know, because I can't just close down. I have to hold it up. I’m hoping things will open, hopefully sooner than later,” Gakhreja said.

Sunny says PPP loans are what’s keeping him afloat.

“We have a little support from here and there from the city and the government, but it’s not enough. It’s very hard to survive,” Gakhreja said.

The San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce has made efforts to talk to the Biden administration. They recently wrote a letter to the president urging him to re-examine border travel restrictions. They have yet to receive a response.

“We just have no representation. There is just no one helping and we’ve got entire communities from here to Brownsville that are just dying on the vine,” Wells said.

San Ysidro Businesses Struggle With Limits On Non-Essential Border Crossings
Listen to this story by Alexandra Rangel.