Struggling businesses in San Ysidro hope border closure will finally be lifted


SAN YSIDRO (KUSI) – On Wednesday, July 21, 2021 nonessential travel restrictions from Mexico to the United States are expected to expire. However, as of late Tuesday night the Department of Homeland Security had not made any formal announcement on the matter. It leaves border communities, like those in San Ysidro, confused about what comes next. 

Of the roughly 650 businesses in San Ysidro, nearly 200 have been forced to close because of restrictions. Business owners like Olivia Campos who have operated in San Ysidro for more than a decade wonder what will come next.

“It’s going to be really tough. We really need to do something if we’re going to survive,” Campos said. “I was thinking everything was going to get better, even when we had hard times like 9/11, but this one is really the worst.”

The San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce is working to advocate at the federal level for more local representation. They feel elected officials have not taken the time to understand the complex yet critical economic support border communities offer regions across the nation.

“The dynamic in San Ysidro is so different from everywhere else. The communities are the other ones supporting their communities. They can close the main thoroughfare and set up a farmers market and everyone’s happy,” said Jason Wells San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce Executive Director. “It’s like if we’re in Little Italy and the governor of California said, ‘Hey, we’re completely reopen but the only people who can shop are the ones who live there.’ The businesses wouldn’t survive by that and businesses aren’t surviving here.”

Earlier this month Mayor Todd Gloria sent a letter to the federal government advocating to reopen border communities like the ones in San Diego County, but nothing was done to provide clear guidance on the issue. Wells said the community deserves to know the benchmark and criteria to safely reopen, especially as some communities in Mexico see vaccination rates much higher than portions of the United States.

“That’s the heart of the frustration. Our lives are being impacted with no rubric for how to fix it,” Wells said. “We’ve never been told if this gets to a certain percentage, or that gets to a certain percentage. There’s never been a state at which we can look at and say ok now we’ll be able to get those restrictions lifted.”

It’s unclear what happens if the closure order expires before DHS has formally made an announcement about the extension or lifting of restrictions.

KUSI’s Hunter Sowards was live in San Ysidro with more details on the situation.

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