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Temporary PedWest closure comes at terrible time for businesses that rely on cross-border customers

Saturday marked the beginning of the temporary closure of the pedestrian border crossing PedWest near San Ysidro. Just blocks away from the U.S.-Mexico border, Carolin Shoes owner Olivia Campos said the impact was felt right away.

"This Saturday and Sunday, we are like waiting for customers and we don't see customers," Campos said.

Customs and Border Protection officials said they needed to temporarily close PedWest to redirect staff following increasing numbers of migrant crossings. PedWest was closed for nearly three years during the pandemic and reopened in January, but was shuttered temporarily again in September and now again during the holiday shopping season.


"It’s when we get some money to cover the for the bad months, but this year we don't see nothing," Campos said. "It’s bad for everybody. Not only San Ysidro, but Chula Vista, National City — everywhere is the same thing."

Jason M-B Wells, CEO of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce, said 800 businesses within a couple miles from PedWest generated much of their annual sales from Nov. 20 to Jan 6.

"This is a punch in the gut at the worst possible time," Wells told KPBS. "On the boulevard, 95% of their clients come from Mexico; on this side, the outlet side, 65% come from Mexico. This isn't just about Christmas sales: This is about students trying to get to school on time, this is about people visiting their families, this is about Americans getting to work."

Campos said running her shoe and clothing store had been tough the past few years. She understands the need for border security, but wonders if wait times can be sped up for those in cars. She said customers were telling her that they wait hours to cross. Campos estimates that 70% of her customers come from Mexico.

"They close it (PedWest) and we can see just right away everything go down — the business," Campos said.


The owner of nearby Maya’s Gourmet Pizza said San Ysidro Boulevard just had not been as busy compared with previous years. He said he had sold his business and wouldn’t be there in the new year.

Officials said they would provide updates on the temporary closure when they could.

"CBP will open as many lanes as possible at the Pedestrian East and Otay Mesa crossings to accommodate the potential increase in crossers at those locations," a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "In response to this influx in encounters, we will continue to surge all available resources to expeditiously and safely process migrants."

The CBP spokesperson said the border security mission remained the No. 1 priority and people crossing in cars or via other means might experience longer wait times.