San Diego Leaders Call For End To Border Restrictions
Political leaders from across San Diego County gathered Thursday in San Ysidro to call for an end to travel restrictions at the U.S./Mexico border. They say the restrictions are hurting businesses in the area.
Just this week, the U.S. extended COVID-19 restrictions against non-essential travel across both the southern and northern borders through at least July 21.
Throughout the closure, which began in 2020, business owners along the border have said they've been severely impacted. A supervisor at the UETA Duty-Free shop in the Plaza Palmera, Las Americas Mall, told KPBS their business is down by about 70%.
Concern for these businesses prompted the mayors of San Diego, National City and Imperial Beach and a county supervisor to hold a news conference just outside the PedWest border crossing. Todd Gloria, Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, Serge Dedina and Nora Vargas all said the situation is critical.
"As of today, 198 businesses have closed their doors forever due to these restrictions," Vargas said. "And it's estimated that between March '20 and March 2021, retail sales were $200 million, which is a 72% loss for the region."
Gloria said he’s still waiting for an answer from Washington about what metrics need to be met for federal officials to give the green light to reopen cross-border travel.
"There's been a receptivity to the information we're providing," Gloria said. "What I've yet to receive back is an explanation of, 'OK, here's where you're at, here's where we need you to be.' Again, I think if given those opportunities, we could get there from here."
Before the news conference, Gloria toured a vaccination site at the PedWest crossing, where Mexican nationals who work in American-owned factories can get vaccinated. More than 20,000 people received their shots over the past few months.