BROWNSVILLE, Texas (KVEO) — Travel restrictions along the U.S. border with Mexico were extended until October 21, and business on the U.S. side are hoping they do not go on much longer.
“We had never seen such a drastic drop in clientele,” said Melrose Store Manager, Mayra, adding she had not had any customers all morning.
The business has slowed drastically along Elizabeth Street, just down the road from the Brownsville Gateway International Bridge.
Before the pandemic led to travel restrictions in March, Mexican citizens crossed over and walked downtown to shop.
Now the downtown Brownsville area is taking a hit.
Mayra can point out the stores along the street that closed their doors during the shut down in March and never opened back up.
“Mexico is a fundamental part of our success,” said Mayra.
Employees from a shoe store two blocks down explained that 80% of their clientele were from Mexico. Now the only Mexican clientele they see are those who are able to cross to donate plasma.
Casual shoppers on the U.S. side provide some much-needed revenue for the businesses downtown.
Connie and Andres Herrera have lived in the downtown area for 11 years and are happy to see business pick-up as people become more comfortable going out.
“It was like a ghost town, but now it’s a lot more normal, so we like that, we like that,” said Connie Herrera explaining what it was like during the shutdown.
Despite the increase in U.S. residents shopping downtown, many leave after finding the store they were going to closed. This has not helped the businesses that have struggled to remain open.
“It’s a big stress, trying to make a sale and not being able to because of this,” said Mayra.
She says a quick solution is needed, and lawmakers agree.
Last Thursday, members of Congress sent a letter to DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, urging an ease of restrictions on land border crossing and stressing the importance of Mexican citizens in border economies.
“My hope after October 21, they’ll let people from Mexico cross,” said Mayra.