Skip to Content

Feed aggregator

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and the Arts: Will Creatives Receive Funding for the “Once-in-a-lifetime-funding?”

El Paso News - 2 hours 33 min ago
By Miguel Juárez, PhD On March 11, 2021, the third major pandemic aid law titled the “American Rescue Plan,” was signed into law by President Joe Biden.  This pandemic aid law aims to be different.  It hopes to have “more accountability, eligibility and reporting requirements than previous aid packages.”  The first pandemic aid law, the… Read More The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and the Arts: Will Creatives Receive Funding for the “Once-in-a-lifetime-funding?”
Categories: Local Blogs

The Strange Story of Richard Nagell, John F. Kennedy and the State National Bank of El Paso

El Paso Politics - Fri, 04/16/2021 - 11:11am
“Bank robber, ‘Manchurian Candidate’ linked to JFK assassination probe” read the headline. The Los Angeles Free Press article describes how “a rangy man with a vertical scar on his forehead strode into […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Cissy Lizarraga And Campaign Financing in El Paso

El Paso Politics - Tue, 04/13/2021 - 1:08pm
The current city representative for District 8, Cecilia “Cissy” Lizarraga, is having a fundraiser and reception on April 28. Lizarraga’s term ends on January 3, 2023. According to the latest financial reports […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Vendedores de El Bronco Swap Meet y Ascarate Flea Market tratan de sobrevivir la pandemia y la crisis económica

Borderzine - Sat, 04/10/2021 - 2:03pm

Dos de los mercados más populares en El Paso tratan de mantenerse a flote durante la pandemia.

Las puertas de El Bronco Swap Meet se encuentran cerradas y vendedores esperan la noticia por parte de los dueños de cuando podrán volver a operar. Por otro lado, Ascarate Flea Market abrió de nuevo después de dos meses de no operar al inicio de la pandemia.

Ropa semi nueva, juguetes, verduras, antigüedades, artículos de limpieza, cubre bocas y comida son solo algunas de las cosas que los paseños pueden encontrar en dos de los mercados.

No hay una respuesta concreta de cuando el Bronco volver a abrir sus puertas para compradores y vendedores. Photo credit: Maria Ramos Pacheco

El Bronco tiene sus puertas cerradas debido a falta de autorización de la ciudad para operar.

“Nos ha afectado bastante, como mucha gente venia de Juárez y hacían aquí sus compras, pues ya no vienen, también como la gente no se quiere juntar, porque no quieren agarrar el virus, todo esto afecta mucho”, dice David Muñoz.

Muñoz trabaja en construcción entre semana y los fines de semana dedica su tiempo a manejar el negocio de ropa a su mamá que se encuentra al costado derecho de El Bronco. El negocio de la familia Muñoz se ha visto drásticamente afectado desde que El Bronco cerro.

David Muñoz y su hijo atiende el negocio de su mamá los fines de semana, este se encuentra a un lado de el Bronco. Photo credit: Maria Ramos Pacheco

El cierre parcial de la frontera que se estableció en marzo del 2020, limitando el acceso a personas de Ciudad Juárez ha tenido un impacto en la economía de El Paso. Esta ley continua en efecto y los comerciantes se han visto afectado por esta orden del gobierno federal en los Estados Unidos.

Para poder continuar obteniendo un ingreso, algunos vendedores optaron por colocar su mercancía en el estacionamiento de la plaza donde se encuentra El Bronco. Muñoz comento que esto solo sucedió un par de fines de semana, hasta que la ciudad no les permitió vender más en el estacionamiento.

“La ciudad esta exigiendo que saquen permisos, y van (los dueños de el Bronco) y se los niegan, así que a como veo las cosas, no veo nada cerca”, Muñoz dice.

Rafael Alarcón, tiene más de 30 años vendiendo cosas nuevas y semi nuevas en su local que se encuentra a unos 200 metros de El Bronco.

“A todos nos afecta, porque es una forma de distraerse, de quitarse el estrés, y a toda la gente le ha afectado que este cerrado El Bronco”, Alarcón dice. “Con la pandemia, la gente no trae dinero y pues no vienen a comprar.”

No hay planes concretos de fecha de reapertura de El Bronco. Los vendedores piden que la ciudad los apoye y les de una fecha para volver a trabajar.

“La ciudad no ayuda a los negocios, son pocos los negocios que hay y luego los están cerrando, depende uno del negocio. Dependemos de que la ciudad deje a la gente que se pongan a vender”, Alarcón dice.

Rotulo en la entrada principal de Ascarate Market, sin embargo no hay alguna autoridad o persona que se encargue que todo el que entre use cubre bocas. Photo credit: Maria Ramos Pacheco

Ascarate Market

Mientras las puertas de El Bronco se encuentran cerradas, el Ascarate Market recibe compradores los fines de semana. En marzo y abril del 2020 el mercado estuvo cerrado, fue hasta mayo que se abrieron de nuevo las puertas para los vendedores y compradores.

Francisco González, vendedor de inciensos y porta inciensos que el mismo hace solía vender en El Bronco, sin embargo desde enero vende sus productos en Ascarate Market.

“Me vine para acá, por que el Bronco esta cerrado y aquí hay mucha gente, aquí si puedo vender mis cosas”, González dice.

Personas de todas las edades acuden los fines de semana a Ascarate Market. Photo credit: Maria Ramos Pacheco

Vendedores de Ascarate Market sienten que las ventas están subiendo poco a poco pero aun así aseguran que no será igual hasta que se abra la frontera.

“Al principio nos afecto porque la gente no quería salir, ya ahora se ve mas gente. Duro dos meses cerrado el mercado”, dice María Mata, vendedora en Ascarate Market. “Cuando lo abrieron la gente no quería venir, estaba muy solo, ya ahorita se ve normal pero hacen falta los de Juárez.”

Venta de frutas y verduras en Ascarate Market son unas de los productos populares. Photo credit: Maria Ramos Pacheco

Mata, tiene 10 años vendiendo en este mercado. Antes de la pandemia vendía ropa nueva y semi nueva. Desde que comenzó la pandemia le dio un giro a sus ventas, ahora vende productos de limpieza, vitaminas y cubre bocas.

En las entradas de Ascarate Market, se encuentran rótulos que dicen “cubre bocas requerido antes de entrar”, sin embargo no hay nadie en las puertas asegurándose que los compradores y vendedores hagan uso de las mascarillas.

Compradores pueden encontrar todo tipo de artículos en Ascarate Market. Photo credit: Maria Ramos Pacheco

Dora García, vendedora por cinco años en Ascarate Market de productos de belleza y vitaminas, no esta de acuerdo en que el uso de cubre bocas no sea cumpla. García dice que no toda la gente usa la mascarilla mientras visitan el mercado.

“No realmente, mucha gente anda sin mascara, y mucha gente tose y estornuda para todos lados, creo que la gente no tiene conciencia”, García dice.

Los dueños de Ascarate Market fueron contactados varias veces por Borderzine para ser entrevistados, no se obtuvo respuesta.

El Bronco y Ascarate Market son la fuente principal de ingresos de muchos de los vendedores. Como cualquier otro negocio en El Paso afectado por la pandemia y la crisis económica vendedores de Ascarate Market esperan que las cosas vuelvas a la normalidad pronto para fortalecer sus ventas de una forma que no comprometa su salud.

 

Categories: Local Blogs

Why You Should Be Worried About The Facebook Leak

El Paso Politics - Sat, 04/10/2021 - 1:21pm
A few days ago, the personal information of 533 million Facebook users was made freely available on the Internet. The Facebook data breach is from an August 2019 incident where hackers were […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Artists reflect Segundo Barrio pride in south El Paso mural

Borderzine - Sat, 04/10/2021 - 12:23pm

EL PASO — Three artists who grew up in the Segundo Barrio collaborated to create the mural “Quinto Sol- The Rebirth,” in south El Paso.

Francisco Delgado, Francisco Camacho, and Bobby Lerma united to paint the mural to inspire children from the neighborhood with memorable artwork.

“I believe that it was destined to be on that wall. Everything felt in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, with people who have a good heart, with people that care about the community, and with people who have a strong incomparable love to the neighborhood,” Lerma said.

Delgado calls himself a “bordeño,” an artist whose artwork is a mashup of being a Chicano and a “fronterizo.” It focuses on social and political issues in the borderland. He has painted numerous murals, including the popular “Sagrado Corazón,” or Sacred Heart which is also located in the Segundo Barrio neighborhood.

Camacho’s artwork is influenced by graffiti and hip pop and he incorporates it with Chicano and pop art.

The design features an Aztec with bright jade-colored feathers and Segundo Barrio written in big white letters. According to the artists, the mural is designed to inspire pride, hope, and “ganas,” or drive, to the people of the Segundo during these difficult pandemic times.

The mural at Seventh Ave. and Florence St. reflects neighborhoods roots. The Aztec figure’s skin color is light brown to represent the people of the barrio. The ear spools represent a child’s progression in the community. The tongue’s piercings and tattoos honor the elderly and their families according to the artists.

The jade colored feathers represent the brightly colored headdresses made from the Quetzal bird ‘s feathers and worn by Aztec leaders, like Moctezuma. “Of course, the feathers mean a little more because the neighborhood is where you develop,” Lerma said.

The artists finished the mural in December 2020 and it was a Christmas gift for the people of the Segundo Barrio.

“It’s something that is going to outlive us, way beyond our time. This project was more than just us. It’s for the community. It was for them to walk by, to take pictures, and to admire it,” Camacho said.

“Quinto Sol-The Rebirth” mural is located at Florence St. and Seventh Ave. in front of the Marcos B. Armijo Community Center building. Photo by Victoria Rivas, Borderzine.com

The pandemic has also allowed the artists to focus and spend more time on their individual artwork after their gallery exhibitions and other projects were canceled.

“I could either be sad about it, or I could just keep creating. I think this slowed down everything for me so that I could continue creating. I still did some things in my studio. This was possible because of it, the mural,” Delgado said.

Both Delgado and Camacho also sell their pieces to anyone interested in collecting their designs. “Anything and everything is for sale. I love creating artwork for myself, to begin with, but I love it when somebody else likes that art and if they are willing to buy it or willing to ask for a print. Everything is available,” Camacho said.

Lerma had to shut down the Segundo Barrio Apparel Company he runs for a couple of months because of the pandemic. During that time, he digitized his designs and created more items to sell featuring artwork. It’s now reopened on Saturdays.

The artists see the mural as their gift to the neighborhood. “Now it belongs to the people,” Delgado said. “They own it, and it’s posted right there, Segundo Barrio.

Rich in culture, history, and tradition, the mural also represents the hope of a new generation.

“We’re still here, times have changed, but the community and the barrio still continue to flourish. So, the rebirth is there, and it’s part of what the mural stands for,” Camacho said.

 

Categories: Local Blogs

Dolores Huerta: La reina del campo

Diana Washington Valdez - Sat, 04/10/2021 - 10:15am

 

Poster del documental
"Dolores"
La reina del campo
Ahí viene la guerrillera morena,La reina del campoCon su maleta viajadaCargada de esperanzas;Viene a convertir todos tus doloresen una fuerza implacable;Viene a levantar tu animoPara luchar contra la injusticia;Viene a darle un nuevo alientoA tus sueños adormecidos;El sol brilla alrededor deEsta guerrillera morenaQue trae luz y alegría a tu alma;Va a transformar tus tristes lagrimasEn abono para una grandiosaCosecha de milagros.
Diana Washington Valdez15 de octubre de 2017
[Para Dolores Huerta,la reina del campo.]

Categories: Local Blogs

‘Pasadores’ serve as personal shoppers for border dwellers who can’t cross amid pandemic

Borderzine - Tue, 04/06/2021 - 10:22am

CIUDAD JUAREZ — Before border pandemic travel restrictions, shoppers from Mexico crossed daily. But during the pandemic more been forced to turn to others to get the products they want or need from the U.S. side of the border.

For more than a year, the border between the U.S. and Mexico has been closed to all non-essential travel in an attempt to stop the spread of Covid-19. Some U.S. citizens and legal residents are still going back and forth because the authorities can’t keep them from returning home from Mexico.

Mexican citizens with border crossing cards or visas though are only allowed to visit the U.S. for reasons that are essential including work, school or medical appointments. Shopping is not considered on the essential list.

Those who can rely on friends or relatives to but others are turning to passadores or cruzadores, U.S. citizens or legal residents who can cross back and forth and will shop for others in Juarez for a fee.

“A month after crossings were restricted I began crossing again and doing favors for friends,” said Samantha Camacho. She’s a U.S. citizen and University of Texas at El Paso student.

Camacho saw a business opportunity and after making several trips for her friends, she realized a lot of people needed someone who could buy groceries from stores like Walmart and Sam’s Club.

Hot Cheetos, sweets, cereal, laundry detergent, and milk are among the items that shoppers insist on buying in El Paso through “pasadores” not only because certain items are only available in the U.S., but also because some things are cheaper and, according to Mexican shoppers better quality and taste.

Even though it all started as favors from one friend to another, she later began to charge a fee for every trip. The fee, she says, depends on the number of products she picks up and their size, but it’s usually around five and 15 dollars.

“I was spending on gas and sometimes I would only cross for that, so I told them the fee was to cover gas and for doing them the favor, because I was using my time,” Camacho said.

Camacho has a job caring for the elderly El Pasoans, but the money she makes shopping for others has been an important source of additional income since the hours at her job were cut because of the pandemic. Although the fees she charges don’t make up for the portion of the salary she lost, the extra income helps pay for gas.

She also makes money picking up packages sent to P.O. boxes in El Paso. That remains the top errand she runs for Juarez residents.

The border pandemic travel restrictions benefited her economically, but she wants them lifted as soon as possible even if it means losing extra income.

“They were good to stop the spread of the virus, but I would definitely not want the border to be closed forever,” Camacho said.

Pamela Quevedo is another entrepreneur who started an online shop when the pandemic restricted border crossings.

The 18-year-old architecture student in Juárez created “Whim-is” using Facebook and Instagram to sells products from the U.S.

“Anything you can find in the U.S. I can bring it to Mexico,” Quevedo said.

Quevedo is not a U.S. citizen, so she cannot cross the border to buy the products available in her shop herself, but she relies on her friends and family that can cross to supply her business. She sells the products in Juárez, with available shipping for customers anywhere in Mexico.

Quevedo was inspired to create her shop after she repeatedly asked her friends for favors to get what she needed from El Paso.

Thinking there must be many like her in Juárez,who want certain products from the U.S. but cannot get them she stocked up on popular items. including snacks.

Her bestsellers are snacks, with Flaming Hot Cheetos topping the list. She showcases those snacks on on different social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and even TikTok.

Conscious that after the border reopens her online shop “Whim-is” will not be needed as much in this Mexican border city, Quevedo plans to move her business to another city.

“I hope to open a physical shop in Chihuahua and to deliver everywhere in Mexico,” Quevedo said.

With no clear answer for when the border will open to non-essential travel again, entrepreneurs and “pasadores” deliver a taste of normalcy for clients in Mexico. Even during the pandemic the fluidity of the border has not come to a halt. Borderlanders, Fronterizos, always find a way to adapt.

 

Categories: Local Blogs

Pandemic inspires Borderlanders to launch home-based online businesses

Borderzine - Tue, 04/06/2021 - 9:55am

Borderlanders with creative skills and a bit of time on their hands because of the pandemic have launched online businesses to sell their crafts and other creative products.

Arely Villa Reyes, a psychology student at the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad of Juárez started selling skirts, handkerchiefs and berets in June on social media web such as Instagram.

“Just like little by little I’ve been progressing and adding new stuff. I feel like the business has been fruitful,” Villa Reyes said.

Her Instagram business page, Chicle y Pega, has more than 1,000 followers. Villa Reyes attributes her business growth to her dedication since promoting a business on a social media platform requires a great deal of time and commitment. She wasn’t expecting to be so successful.

Villa Reyes started her business as a distraction during the pandemic and to make an income and experience being independent. Additionally, she wanted to keep herself occupied to maintain her mental health, she said.

“The main reason I opened my business was because of the pandemic. It wasn’t something that I thought of before,” Villa Reyes said. “Everything started because I wanted to learn about being independent and because in the middle of the pandemic the fact of with mental health affects our minds was very sad.”

Reyes has learned to manage her time wisely in order to keep up the productivity of her business, she said.

“The difference with Chicle y Pega is that I get to work from home, I can take my online classes, I eat here, I get to sleep, and manage all of my time,” Villa Reyes said.

Arely Villa Reyes uses mall parking lots as pick-up spots to meet with her customers to deliver products she’s sold online. Photo credit: Valeria Armendariz

Reyes only offers delivery at no cost in certain areas in Ciudad Juárez, but is planning on adding national shipping at the request of customers.

“I don’t do shipping yet, but I’m thinking about doing it soon,” Villa Reyes said.

From hobby to small business

Samantha Gomez, a UTEP student, created Specks of Joy, her online shop, selling handmade polymer clay earrings in October through Instagram and Etsy.

Gomez started her online shop because of free time while El Paso was under restrictions due to the pandemic.

“I always was into crafting, different hobbies I would catch on to, and then with the pandemic, I had a lot of extra time so I decided to just take the lead and try to actually sell one of the crafts that I do for once,” Gomez said.

Gomez sets aside time for merchandise updates on her Instagram page once a month because of the time constraints of going to school.

“It definitely does get difficult if you’re a student for sure, and you also have another job,” Gomez said. “But I do… like I have two days off, so one of those two days I specifically will make myself time to play around with clay and make the earrings, and then in the rest of my spare time that’s when I’ll assemble them, send them down, and box them, and stuff like that.”

Gomez’s business has slowly started to pay off, and she is planning to incorporate new items, like soy candles, into her online shop.

Gomez advises anyone interested in opening an online business to take the risk and express themselves through their products.

“Open an online business, but don’t rush into it,” Gomez said. “I would say, set up a budget and don’t make, kind of unrealistic goals. So, don’t feel like you have to have official labeling, business cards, as long as you’re showing that you care about what you’re selling, people will buy it.”

 

Categories: Local Blogs

School Board Races

Max Powers - Sun, 04/04/2021 - 7:28pm
Hi. If there is one area of electoral politics I do not care for it is for school board races. For starters...the children. To hell with them. Teachers? Same. And Trustees? Hell isn't severe enough. "I serve on the school board." Yeah, tough gig, bro. But I am rambling now.... Max Powers
Categories: Local Blogs

What Is Going On At The Border?

EPN - Border Analysis - Wed, 03/31/2021 - 9:22pm
Author’s note: the issue of immigration is complex and does not fit into nice little sound bites. This article is necessarily long so that the reader can gain a clearer understanding of what is going on at the southern border today. Rather than break it up into smaller articles, I have decided to publish it… Read More What Is Going On At The Border?
Categories: Local Blogs

PEOPLE OF COLOR – MATICES DE MI RAZA

El Paso News - Mon, 03/29/2021 - 5:12pm
By Maria R Perez, MSSW I recently tuned in to the PBS program Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (S7E6 Country Roots). In this episode Dr. Gates had researched the ancestral histories of singers, Rosanne Cash and Clint Black. I enjoy this program for the authenticity it portrays. I’ve enjoyed other productions by… Read More PEOPLE OF COLOR – MATICES DE MI RAZA
Categories: Local Blogs

How Soon America Forgets: Operation Pedro Pan And Unaccompanied Child Migrants

EPN - Border Analysis - Mon, 03/29/2021 - 1:57pm
Today, the ongoing debate on immigration is led by images of migrant children in cages or pods with politicians on both sides either calling it a “surge,” a “crisis” or part of regular migration patterns. The Democrats are blaming the Trump administration and the Republicans are blaming Biden. However, all seem to believe that unaccompanied… Read More How Soon America Forgets: Operation Pedro Pan And Unaccompanied Child Migrants
Categories: Local Blogs

Immigration Reform – The Choice of Words To Create Fear: What the Numbers Say About The So-Called Border Surge

EPN - Border Analysis - Fri, 03/26/2021 - 8:57am
Words are chosen to frame an argument. It is a mistake to assume that it is the Republicans or the Trump supporters that are the only ones against immigration reform. In immigration there are many competing forces working against reform. Some oppose parts of it while others oppose immigration in general. The reasons vary from… Read More Immigration Reform – The Choice of Words To Create Fear: What the Numbers Say About The So-Called Border Surge
Categories: Local Blogs

The Nazis in El Paso: Why White Supremacy Is Engrained in El Paso

El Paso Politics - Wed, 03/24/2021 - 4:10pm
“The message of El Paso, historic and present, is this: In America constructed by some as ‘great,’ if you are a white man there is almost nothing – whether it’s inventing weapons […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Dateline El Paso Texas … Home of the Amigo Man!

El Paso News - Tue, 03/23/2021 - 9:55am
The 23rd Day 0f the 3rd month, in the second year of the C-19 era. Dateline El Paso Texas … Home of the Amigo Man! H. W. “Bill” Sparks The world was already awake and a half-step ahead of me when I awoke this morning. The air outside was crisp and the skies were clear… Read More Dateline El Paso Texas … Home of the Amigo Man!
Categories: Local Blogs

El Paso Nazis and The Immigration ‘Crisis’

El Paso Politics - Tue, 03/23/2021 - 8:55am
World War II was far from El Paso many tend to believe. Extremist and radicalized political views do not exist in El Paso. Except for the domestic terrorist – Patrick Crusius – […]
Categories: Local Blogs

A Smaller Delegation

Max Powers - Mon, 03/22/2021 - 8:25pm
I have not posted because there is not much to post about. Really. Between Wuhan and Winter Storm Uri?, expectations are kinda low as to what can or cannot happen in Austin. But that being said, they still gotta do redistricting. And your El Paso House Delegation might lose a... Max Powers
Categories: Local Blogs

Border travel restrictions in Detroit and El Paso show the uneven impacts of COVID-19

Borderzine - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 12:52pm

By René Kladzyk / El Paso Matters Nathaly Gonzalez crosses from El Paso to Ciudad Juárez a couple times a week. She brings groceries to her grandparents — they prefer the bulk foods sold on the U.S. side. She visits her brother and takes her dog to the vet.

Gonzalez and her mother are dual U.S.-Mexican citizens and live in El Paso; her brother and grandparents are Mexican citizens and live in Ciudad Juárez.

Things have changed significantly for Gonzalez and her family since the COVID-19 travel restrictions went into effect on March 21, 2020, but she still crosses with ease, regardless of whether her reasons for crossing could be defined as “essential.”

“I’ve rarely had any issues with (Customs and Border Protection),” Gonzalez said.  “And then crossing from El Paso to Juárez nobody really asks you anything. … I think my situation is very common here in El Paso.”

Nathaly Gonzalez drives through the security gate in the Juárez neighborhood where her brother lives. Gonzalez crosses the border into Juárez to see family members and deliver goods that they used to buy in El Paso before the border restrictions began a year ago. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

The COVID-19 border travel restrictions have only been partly enforced on the southern border of the United States. For Mexican nationals with tourist visas, like Gonzalez’s brother, the border has been effectively closed. But for U.S. passport-holders, although travel is technically restricted to “essential” purposes, “non-essential” crossing has continued with minimal obstruction. 

In Detroit, 1,700 miles from El Paso, border crossing enforcement at the port of entry into Canada has been a wholly different story.

“Canada’s just been much more aggressive and much more conservative regarding the border during the pandemic than the U.S. has,” said Laurie Trautman, director of the Border Policy Research Institute at Western Washington University.

This more stringent approach by Canada has resulted in starkly different numbers for the reduction of border crossings between northern and southern United States ports of entry over the past year. While border crossings for pedestrians, passenger vehicles, and buses at the Canadian border were lowered by between 91% and 99% last year, on the Mexico border they lowered by a far smaller margin: between 35% and 68% depending on the type of crossing.

“Our approach is uniform at both borders,” said Roger Maier, spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection, noting that the travel restrictions are in place in order to “fight the spread of COVID.”

Although enforcement has been applied evenly by the United States, differential approaches by Canada and Mexico carry profound implications for U.S. border communities: economically, culturally and in terms of infectious disease.

The rationale for the border closure

In March 2020 the Department of Homeland Security announced that “in order to limit the further spread of coronavirus, the U.S. has reached agreements with both Canada and Mexico to limit all non-essential travel across borders.” Since then, the travel restrictions have been extended month after month over the past year.

Gonzalez said she thinks the border should have reopened by now, noting how hard it is for mixed-citizenship families like hers. When asked whether she thinks COVID-19 travel restrictions were worth it, she said “maybe at first, but not anymore.”

Some research has indicated that although border travel restrictions were effective in the early days of the pandemic (particularly when coupled with rigorous additional methods like testing, contact tracing, and quarantining), they became less effective over time.

“In three years, five years, when we do a post-mortem of COVID wins and losses, there’s going to be a lot of controversy as to, did our targeted interventions actually achieve the desired outcomes?” said Dr. Ogechika Alozie, an infectious disease specialist and El Paso physician.

Uneven COVID-19 severity among border communities

Looking at differential enforcement of border travel restrictions may offer insight into the drivers of infection rates in border communities, Alozie said.

El Paso-Juárez and Detroit-Windsor have some similarities as parallel high-population border metropolises, but had vastly different COVID-19 outbreak severity this past year.

El Paso and Detroit are the number one and number two least racially diverse cities in the United States, both with minority racial and ethnic populations in the majority. Both cities have median incomes well below the national average, and poverty rates well above the national average. Both El Paso County and Wayne County also have high levels of social vulnerability, according to the Center for Disease Control’s Social Vulnerability Index, which measures a community’s ability to mitigate suffering and economic loss during a disaster.

Wayne County is the most populous county in Michigan; its county seat is the city of Detroit.

Total COVID-19 cases were 150 percent higher on a per capita basis in El Paso County than in Wayne County, and total COVID-19 deaths were 20 percent higher. This is a simplified comparison because Detroit is a multi-county urban area. However, because Wayne County had a more severe COVID-19 toll than other suburban counties in Detroit, the discrepancy in overall COVID-19 severity between the two border communities is likely even greater.

“There seems to be an association between the lack of reduction in border traffic and the fact that we just had much more cases and deaths than the comparative city that’s also sitting on the border such as Detroit,” Alozie said. “It’s not causal — you can’t say one led to the other — but there does seem to be a clear data association when Detroit was having 95-99% reduction in traffic and here in El Paso it was only 60 to 70%.”

The potential mitigation of COVID-19 spread among border communities made the travel restrictions worth it, even if it wasn’t a 100% stopgap, said Eduardo Herrera, secretary of health for the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

“We do know that very great damage has been caused to the economy, but decisions had to be made to control the pandemic. And both Juárez and El Paso had the highest rates of infection of the virus, much stronger than other cities throughout the United States and throughout Mexico,” Herrera said.

The economic impact of border restrictions

The way that border travel restrictions affected the local economies of border communities was also uneven, largely tied to the ways the restrictions were enforced.

“The networks are reacting in totally different ways between the two sides,” Francesco Cappellano said, noting that Mexican border cities have been able to be more economically resilient to the COVID-19 border travel restrictions.

Cappellano, a researcher at the University of Eastern Finland, has been conducting research since 2017 comparing border communities of the San Diego/Tijuana region with the Washington State/ British Columbia region.

He said that varying pandemic responses by the three nations on a spectrum of strictness to laxness (Canada being the most stringent, the U.S. in the middle with an “ambivalent attitude,” and Mexico the most relaxed), has meant that the pressures of the border closure are experienced differently by different border communities.

The Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, is one of the busiest land border crossings in the United States, accounting for 27 percent of the $400 billion in annual trade between the United States and Canada. (Laura Finlay/Special to El Paso Matters)

For El Paso and Juárez, Cappellano’s assessment that the Mexican side is more economically resilient holds true, said Eduardo Ramos, president of Juárez’s combined chambers of commerce.

“The main victims of this are El Paso owners of commerce. Because El Paso depends (on shoppers) from Mexico,” Ramos said, explaining that the same is not true in reverse. “Juárez is more resilient than El Paso.”

Ramos said that he has observed few business closures during the pandemic, and emphasized that sales around Christmastime in Juárez were better this year than they had been in past years.

In El Paso, total small business revenues decreased by 32 percent when comparing March 2021 to January 2020, and 25 percent of small businesses closed during the same period, according to Track the Recovery.

Tom Fullerton, economics professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, agreed that the economic impacts of the border travel restrictions have been far more detrimental for El Paso than Juárez.

“It is a lot easier for U.S. citizens to cross the bridge since they’re not being stopped and questioned as they go into Mexico, so they’re probably still buying close to the same amount of items in Juárez that always would, but it’s not happening in the reverse direction,” Fullerton said.

“As a consequence of that, we’re probably observing one, a higher rate of business closures in El Paso; two, a higher rate of retail space vacancies; and three, lower rents per square foot for commercial real estate.”

A sign in southwest Detroit points toward the port of entry into Canada. (Laura Finlay/Special to El Paso Matters)

Other economic impacts of the border travel restrictions will be difficult to measure, said Bill Anderson, director of the Cross-Border Institute in Windsor, Canada.

The deterioration of in-person business relationships and what that will mean for cross-border economic trust is a big issue, he said.

“The relationship here on this border is kind of personal. People know each other, they talk to each other a lot, they physically go back and forth across the border. And being separated for that long, it just seems to me it’s gonna have some sort of effect in the long-term in terms of the intensity of the economic relationship, that degree of integration across the border,” Anderson said.

Like El Paso-Juárez, the sister cities of Detroit and Windsor also have extensive manufacturing sectors, particularly connected to the automotive industry. Detroit-Windsor and El Paso-Juárez are also interconnected on this supply chain, with some Detroit-based companies expanding production to factories in border communities like El Paso-Juárez.

The incalculable toll on cross-border families

The cross-border patterns of Nathaly Gonzalez and her family are far from unique in El Paso-Juárez.

“It’s just normal,” Dania Gobea said, referring to frequent border crossing between El Paso and Juárez among families and friend groups. Gobea is currently a student at UTEP, but lives in Juárez. As a student, she has an “essential” purpose for continuing to cross, but said she has still had difficulties with CBP agents at the bridge because she is a Mexican citizen.

“It’s (more) normal for people in El Paso to come easily (to Juárez), than us to go in El Paso because they ask us questions when we go there,” she said.

Hugo Gonzalez reaches out to help his sister, Nathaly, with the bags she has brought from El Paso to his home in Juárez. Hugo, a Mexican national with a tourist visa, has not been able to shop or visit family in El Paso in a year. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

Anderson said the Detroit-Windsor area also has a significant amount of families that are spread out across both sides of the border, particularly among the area’s large Middle Eastern immigrant population. 

“One of the things that binds Detroit and Windsor together is the Middle Eastern community–  particularly the Arab community, and you know they always say about Detroit, ‘the largest Arab population outside the Middle East,’ and the biggest immigrant group in Windsor is Lebanese,” Anderson said, noting that many Arab and Lebanese families in the area have family members on both sides of the border.

Shoppers enter Al-Haramain International Food in Hamtramck, Michigan. Hamtramck, a municipality located within the city of Detroit, is an enclave of diverse immigrant populations. In 2015, the city appointed the first Muslim-majority city council in the U.S. (Laura Finlay/Special to El Paso Matters)

Canada has implemented border travel restriction exemptions for extended family members and “compassionate” reasons, for example in the case of a dying friend or a significant other who is a Canadian citizen. Although these enable some U.S. citizens under certain circumstances to travel to Canada for “non-essential” reasons, they are nonetheless reflective of the far greater limitations for crossing the northern border of the United States, as compared to the southern border.

“Another major difference between the two borders is Canada’s two-week quarantine requirement, which obviously Mexico doesn’t have, so that’s huge,” said Laurie Trautman, from the Border Policy Research Institute.

“I know a lot of people whose kids or parents live in Canada — they would technically be allowed to cross because they’re immediate family, but they’re supposed to quarantine for two weeks, so that in and of itself severely limits cross-border travel even from people that are able to go,” she said.

In that sense, familial barriers of the border closure are applied more stringently on the northern border than the southern border.

Nonetheless, border travel restrictions are acutely felt by families in El Paso-Juárez, even if enforcement of the restrictions is one-sided.

“If it was blocked both ways I have no idea what we would do,” Gonzalez said, describing all the ways her family has adapted because not everyone can cross freely.

“I just wish the borders were open,” she said. “There’s a lot of implications of closing the border, especially here. And I think they should be able to open now.”

UPDATE: On Thursday, after this story was published, Mexico announced that it would begin enforcing a restriction on non-essential travel across its northern and southern borders.

Cover photo: Vehicles line up on Avenida Juárez at the foot of the Paso del Norte International Bridge on March 10. Despite COVID-19 travel restrictions, thousands of people cross each day between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

This story was produced as part of the Puente News Collaborative, a binational partnership of news organizations in Ciudad Juárez and El Paso.
Categories: Local Blogs

A timeline of the pandemic in the Borderland

Borderzine - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 12:18pm

On March 13, 2020, the first confirmed COVID-19 case in El Paso was reported. Two days later, the first case was found in Ciudad Juárez. On March 21, 2020, the United States and Mexico agreed to close the border to all but essential traffic, disrupting life in the Paso del Norte region.

In the year since the pandemic’s arrival, thousands of people in both Ciudad Juárez and El Paso have died of COVID-19. Schools have shuttered. Businesses have struggled.

This timeline, produced as part of the Puente Media Collaborative, looks back at crucial moments in the past year.

 

Cover photo: People lined up on Jan. 19 at the El Paso County Coliseum to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy of University Medical Center of El Paso)

Una cronología de la pandemia de Borderland

El 13 de marzo de 2020 se informó el primer caso confirmado de COVID-19 en El Paso. Dos días después, se detectó el primer caso en Ciudad Juárez. El 21 de marzo de 2020, los Estados Unidos y México acordaron cerrar la frontera a todo el tráfico menos esencial, interrumpiendo la vida en la región del Paso del Norte.

En el año transcurrido desde la llegada de la pandemia, miles de personas tanto en Ciudad Juárez como en El Paso han fallecido de COVID-19. Las escuelas han cerrado. Las empresas han tenido problemas.

Esta cronología, producida como parte del Puente Media Collaborative, repasa los momentos cruciales del año pasado. Esta cronología fue producida en parte de Puente News Collaborative, una asociación binacional de organizaciones de noticias en Ciudad Juárez y El Paso.

Foto de portada: Una enfermera prepara una vacuna COVID-19 en el centro de la ciudad cerca del Aeropuerto Internacional de El Paso. (Foto cortesía de la ciudad de El Paso)

Categories: Local Blogs
Syndicate content


by Dr. Radut