Bridges with increasing visitor numbers after a slow start

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After closing the border to Mexican tourists for nearly 20 months due to COVID-19 restrictions, the border finally reopened this week. However, the expected large number of visitors was not so great, as very few people crossed in the first days of the opening of the border.

Although estimates, up to a few hours before the bridges reopen, suggested that the lines of passenger and vehicle traffic might be different from anything locals had ever seen, there was instead very modest traffic on Bridges I and II on Monday and through Thursday .

“On the first day of non-essential traffic reopening, November 8, CBP saw vehicles at the Laredo port of entry increase by about 5%, with about 12,000 processed compared to 10,000 on an average day the previous week,” US said Customs and Border Public Affairs Protection Commissioner Rick Pauza said. “CBP officers saw the number of pedestrians grow 43%, about 7,000, and CBP officers processed about 1,000 tourist permits (I-94).”

However, things started to change on Friday as more people entered the United States. Numbers for the weekend weren’t immediately available, but traffic was visibly higher than at the beginning of the week.

Pauza also said the increases were common on Friday as weekends and holidays approached – Mexico had a three-day weekend to celebrate Revolution Day on Monday, which resulted in many being off work.


“Traffic goes up and down, and we expect spikes on weekends, Mexican holidays, and another influx of shoppers for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving,” said Pauza.

Some people who crossed the border on Friday night said they were both waiting for the weekend and knowing a little about how strict CBP officials are in reviewing vaccination documents.

“For the first few days I didn’t want to cross the border because I wanted to know if people were really being let in or not,” said Noraida Parras of the area as she crossed the Juarez Lincoln International Bridge. “When I heard many people crossing without any problems and knew that we weren’t working in Mexico this Monday either, it was the perfect opportunity.”

Jose Luis Sanchez shared the same opinion but also said the weekend crossing was better to enjoy some of the Black Friday sales that are going on in town.

“I saw laptops for only $ 150 and TVs for only $ 100 this weekend and next. It’s time to finally switch to good electronics as we saved some money at home, ”said Sanchez.

Although the border reopening was slow until Friday – and more were trying to get into the country – Pauza states that CBP is fully prepared for any future large influx of people entering the United States.

“Traffic has increased slightly, but we know this can change at any time,” said Pauza. “We have prepared for the reopening. We have enough CBP officers to handle the traffic. We monitor the flow of traffic and make adjustments, open and close lanes as required. “

Even if the border reopening started slower than expected, the city’s economic development director says it isn’t bad for the economy as, contrary to popular belief, Laredo is not entirely dependent on Mexican tourism and those shoppers’ retail sales for survival. He says this will only help the economy recover as it is slowly but surely happening.

“I hope you can understand that Laredo’s economy is not entirely dependent on ‘non-essential’ bridges,” said Teclo J. Garcia, director of economic development for the city of Laredo. “Without these crossings, our retail trade this year has increased by 12.6% compared to the previous year. Our commercial intersections are up 13-15% and new home construction is near an all-time high. “

According to Garcia, unemployment has also fallen from a terrible high of 14% a year ago to 5.4%. In addition, the vacancy rate of commercial properties in the city has fallen to just 1%.

“Given this information, I would question the notion that the economy is slow and still trying to recover,” said Garcia. “Can we do more and get better? Yes, of couse. However, we have already recovered well. “

Garcia said several representatives from Laredo are currently in Mexico City to encourage tourism in the city after the border reopens.

Although CBP made no comment on whether some people have been denied entry to the country due to lack of vaccination cards or proof of vaccination, Pauza reiterated that anyone caught with falsified vaccination documents will be denied entry and a possible revocation of their tourist visa.

Pauza says falsifying information or lying about a federal official can result in denied entry and adverse enforcement actions. He makes it clear that CBP officials decide the admissibility in individual cases, taking into account the information provided, the documents submitted and the entirety of the circumstances.

Pauza also says visitors to the country should use the CBP’s online website to process their permits and any other documents they may need to enter the interior of the United States.

“As the holiday season approaches, we encourage travelers seeking tourist permits to apply online using the CBP One mobile app,” said Pauza. “You can submit an electronic application, pay for the permit online, and this simplifies processing at the port of entry. We are also evaluating traffic flows and possibly looking into opening a satellite I-94 kiosk for processing tourist permits in Laredo’s outlet shops. “

For more information on how to apply for CBP One online, please visit www.cbp.gov/about/mobile-apps-directory/cbpone.

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