Pandemic border closure left U.S.-side businesses staggering

Morning In America

(NewsNation Now) — When the pandemic caused the border between the U.S. and Mexico to close, businesses on the U.S. side that relied on money spent by shoppers crossing the border. It’s not a picture most Americans think of when they think of the border, but a tremendous amount of commerce takes place between the two countries, and there is a huge amount of inter-reliance.

NewsNation’s Alex Capriarello told “Morning in America” that business owners along the border in California say the financial hardships they’ve had to endure for the last two years are “far from over.”

Capriarello said the entire San Ysidro district, just south of San Diego, is struggling. Businesses like Maya’s Pizza, which opened just three months before the pandemic, and Caroline’s Shoes, which has had applications for local and federal disaster funds denied, are hanging on by a thread.

The entire district is struggling. 95 percent of its customers come from Mexico, just a stone’s throw away, and recent difficulties with border transit have discouraged many shoppers and left others simply unable to cross.

Ultimately, nearly 300 businesses closed, 2,200 jobs were lost and and estimated $1.3 billion in sales were never made. Some saw the border closure as a political stunt rather than a safety measure.

Jason Wells, executive director of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce, said, “Clientele on both sides is really built into the fabric of our community. We just needed the government to get out of the way.”

Now that the border has reopened, the situation is improving. Local leaders are working together to help remaining businesses, and cross-border cooperation has led to 25,000 vaccinations for workers on both sides.

Capriarello reported that part of the infrastructure plan for the border area includes improving the pedestrian crossing to make it safer and more visually appealing as well as more efficient, allowing for faster trips to and fro across the boundary.

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