MCALLEN, TEXAS - Retailers across the state are expected to get a boost in sales this Easter weekend, especially from Mexican shoppers. That’s certainly the case along the border where cities depend heavily on Mexican tourism.
As cars pour over the Texas ports of entry this holiday weekend, both customs and city officials are keeping a close eye on people coming into the U.S.
“We expect over 58,000 crossings during this weekend alone,” said Customs and Border Protection officer Elias Rodriguez. “Sometimes people may want to take advantage of this travel season to try to smuggle something that’s not admissible into the U.S. such as drugs.”
Agents on the border are watching for prohibited items such as unclean Easter egg shells, while border cities like McAllen, Texas are tracking tourist spending.
“Hopefully some of the feelings about the rhetoric going on in Washington have calmed down a little bit,” said McAllen Mayor Jim Darling.
Darling says the city wants to make Mexican shoppers feel welcome. After all, he says, McAllen is the largest sales tax collector per capita in Texas, with Mexican shoppers contributing $4.5 billion annually to the state’s economy, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
“We think the state ought to recognize that more than they do,” said Darling. “We hope that the state helps us, even on this side of the border, that there [are] illusions that we’re not safe in our cities.”
But there are other factors the city can’t control, keeping shoppers from shelling out their cash like they used to. Armando Vazaldua says it always comes down to money and isn’t visiting as often.
“Every year, or every 6 months, depending on the dollar,” he said. “As you can see it [dollar] goes up and down a lot. It’s difficult to shop.”
It was only a few months ago that the dollar hit a record of 20 pesos, leaving Mexicans with less purchasing power. It has recovered a bit since then. It’s now at 17 pesos and some change.
“I come to visit a friend, I don’t come to shop,” said Imelda Valladares. “It’s so expensive to come here to shop. I no longer do it.”
These travelers are looking for ways to cut on spending while still enjoying their Easter vacation. This will be the first major holiday to test the border economy since President Trump took office.
© 2017 KENS-TV