Cuellar’s concern about the economic impact is shared by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.), who says it’s not unusual for people to go back and forth across the border every day, even just for lunch.
“It is safe to assume that revenues will be noticeably lower this year. This is, of course, a concern, and serves as another example of how the pandemic has harmed our economy,” Kirkpatrick told POLITICO.
A University of Arizona study found that in 2014, Mexican tourists contributed about $2.5 billion to Arizona’s economy, supporting around 30,000 jobs. Kirkpatrick said many border towns rely on mom-and-pop shops that haven’t received nearly the same attention or resources from the state as more populated cities.
“As we know, cross-border travel is a key pillar of our economy in Southern Arizona — we shouldn’t have to stifle the back and forth that propels prosperity in our state and beyond,” Kirkpatrick said. “On the other hand, we need an aggressive strategy for preventing the spread of Covid between county, state and country lines.”
The problems have also reached California, where border crossings at San Ysidro, the busiest land port of entry in the Western Hemisphere, have only now increased to 50 percent their normal capacity. From a daily count of 200,000 crossings, the now 100,000 crossings can lead to up to 10 hours of delays due to lane restrictions and decreases in staff, according to Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.).
Peters said businesses near the border have seen a 50 percent decline in revenue, and about 13 percent of small businesses have closed permanently.
“The problem with [border restrictions] being indefinite is it’s very difficult for businesses to plan. Our businesses are depending on border crossings on both sides. We need a nationwide strategy,” Peters said.
The economic strains are not isolated to the southern border. Representatives from Washington, Minnesota and New York have asked the federal government to do more to find a more permanent solution as their border towns lose millions in sales and tax revenue from Canadian consumers.