SAN DIEGO — During a tour of a border vaccine site Thursday, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria joined other regional leaders in a call to action, asking the Biden administration to fully reopen the border.
People can currently travel by air and car to and from Mexico; however, pedestrian traffic is still limited to essential travel only and particular entry points.
That’s hurting U.S. businesses. About 95% of San Ysidro Boulevard’s clientele comes from Mexico. It is estimated that the regional economy has lost $645M throughout the pandemic; 198 businesses have permanently closed doors, leaving 1,900 people without jobs.
The walkway crossing known as “PedWest” is now serving as a vaccination super station, where Mexican citizens can cross to get their shots and immediately return to Mexico.
Border area leaders say they hope helping increase vaccination rates among Mexican citizens will aid their effort to reopening for foot traffic, but they say they’re still waiting for clarity on when it will be enough.
“Maquiladoras are bringing their employees to be vaccinated by the thousands each day, personally I witnessed over 200 people be vaccinated just steps from here,” Gloria said at the press event at PedWest Thursday.
He was joined by Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina and National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis joined Supervisor Nora Vargas.
“Each one of us has done our part, whether it be texting, calling, tweeting or sending letters,” Sotelo-Solis said.
Dedina added, “We believe in having an open border. We believe in having two countries working together and our communities working together and thriving together.”
While covering the event, a FOX 5 crew met two U.S. surfers who tried to walk across the border to surf in Mexico, but were told to turn around.
“I’ve crossed here all the time and we came here today and went to go in and the Border Patrol stopped us,” Mike Mckenna explained.
His friend, Scott Schwartz said the officials didn’t explain why: “We were like what do we do? And she said, ‘You got to go over there.'”
The two men and anyone else trying to walk across would have to walk about a mile away and enter at a different port of entry, rather than the previously popular walkway known as PedWest.