LAREDO - IBC Bank Chairman and CEO Dennis E. Nixon, Texas Border Coalition Chairman Eddie Trevino, Jr., Borderplex Alliance CEO Jon Barela and Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz recently penned a letter to acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf urging that the current restrictions on non-essential travel between the U.S., Mexico and Canada be allowed to expire on or before June 22.
The temporary travel restrictions have particularly devastated small to medium-sized businesses along the U.S. and Mexico border. These businesses make up most of the retail, medical and tourism industries, and Mexican shoppers represent over 50% of all retail sales in most Texas border communities.
"Visitors from Mexico are essential to all of the businesses along the border," explained Nixon. "Without these customers, patients and clients, many of these enterprises will fail. Municipal and county budgets that rely heavily on crossing tolls and sales tax are being significantly affected."
Earlier this month, border leaders from El Paso to Brownsville met via video to discuss the situation and build consensus on improving the economic situation in both countries.
"The reality is that border cities are one, integrated community operating in two countries," said Saenz. "They depend on each other for prosperity."
As businesses throughout the country begin the slow climb to recovery, border communities are hamstrung as long as border crossings remain restricted. The fact that hundreds of people still cross the border under essential travel (U.S. citizens and permanent residents, medical travel, work and school-related travel and travel related to trade) highlights the strong economic importance of cross-border commerce, not only for the Texas border communities but as well for Texas and the nation at large.
"Based on improved health results, both countries are reopening for business and the need for restricted travel no longer exists," opined Trevino. "Local and federal funding for border security relies on revenues from taxes and border crossings."
On Monday, June 15, the Borderplex Alliance will host the 2020 Border Summit with political, business and civic leaders to discuss the travel restrictions and the USMCA free trade zone.
"The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement was hard-fought and won and requires a 21st century border infrastructure. If the Agreement is to succeed, the border must be fully open for business," said Barela.