Border reopening brings some informal workers back from Mexico, while others decide the effort isn’t worth it

By Iván Gómez Cruz/La Verdad

CIUDAD JUAREZ – Although Lara has not been able to cross the border for her job cleaning houses for 20 months, the 45-year-old woman said she never lost contact with her El Paso employers. With Monday’s reopening of the U.S. border to non-essential travelers she said that “with God’s favor” she will return to work. Since 2018, Lara worked as a maid for three families in El Paso to help support her family. But in March 2020, the U.S. government closed the border due to the health crisis unleashed by COVID-19. Sometimes she crossed on foot and sometimes she got an acquaintance to take her by car, she said.

What you need to know about the U.S. border reopening to ‘non-essential’ traffic on Nov. 8

By Lauren Villagran / El Paso Times
At midnight on Monday, Nov. 8, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security lifts the restrictions to “non-essential” traffic at the U.S.-Mexico border. That means that Mexican nationals with a valid border crossing card will able to return to El Paso and other U.S. border communities to shop and visit friends and family for the first time in 20 months. Here’s what you need to know. Does the change affect U.S. citizens or lawful residents?

Some Ciudad Juárez residents happy for chance to be vaccinated against COVID in El Paso

American residents and citizens who live in Ciudad Juárez are taking advantage of their status to cross to the United States and be vaccinated. But the health authorities in El Paso are not keeping records of people from Ciudad Juárez who have benefitted from this.

Health authorities in the Mexican state of Chihuahua said it is hard to determine the exact number of residents in Ciudad Juárez who have been vaccinated in El Paso since a large percentage of the population has dual nationality, Mexican and American.

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

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.”

A timeline of the pandemic in the Borderland

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.