A letter to President Biden

Dear Mr. President:

You may recall, but I sent a letter to your office in April of this year. The purpose of that letter was to express the concerns of our constituents regarding the closure of the United States-Mexico border to nonessential travelers. A few months have gone by and although the ports of entry have been kinder to importers and exporters, I believe we still need to allow more of our neighbors to come and visit our country. The economic toll that a lack of tourism and day-to-day crossings through land ports has had on the economies of border communities has only increased since my last correspondence.

As I mentioned before, I am a proud resident of a border city, and I am even more proud to represent the district with the most land bordering Mexico. When the pandemic hit and the borders were shut down to nonessential travel, our border communities were faced with a tremendously negative economic impact. Many small businesses in our communities are kept afloat by travelers and tourists who stop by on their way in and out of our cities. When these businesses could no longer afford to operate, they were forced to shut down. Since my last correspondence, the border has also been closed to people who are attempting to cross into the United States to donate plasma. In the case of Eagle Pass, the plasma donation business helps spur our local economy. Those who cross over and donate plasma are paid after their donation, and then they often spend their money at the shops within the area.

I have compiled updated data from the Eagle Pass Port of Entry, which outlines the economics.

Attached to this letter you will find the difference in toll revenue from 2019 and 2020 to 2020 and 2021. You will find that Eagle Pass has seen a loss of over 2 million dollars in toll revenue for noncommercial and pedestrian traffic. These numbers do not even begin to depict the additional losses to our small business communities.

According to the Office of the Texas Governor, the travel and tourism industry is one of the most important drivers of the Texas economy, generating an estimated $80.2 billion in 2018 direct travel spending, resulting in $164 billion of economic impact. The value of travel to and within Texas affects every Texan citizen. Without travel, each Texas household would pay an additional $740 in state and local taxes to make up for the revenue loss. Along with the many Texans travelling within the state, Texas welcomed an estimated 72.5 million out-of-state visitors in May of 2018 (pre-pandemic).

Aside from a handicapped border economy, our relationships with our sister cities across the border have continued to be strained. As a representative and resident of these communities, I understand how crucial these relationships are with our sister cities. Border economies cannot sustain themselves without the help of nonessential travelers who contribute to our economies by way of purchasing our goods.

It is imperative that we reopen our international land ports of entry on the southern border to nonessential travelers from Mexico in order for these economies to rebound. As vaccination rates have steadily increased, it is time now to focus on rebuilding. I also urge you to support the donation of vaccines to the states of Coahuila and Chihuahua. We need to give our border communities a chance to rebuild their economies and their relationships for the good of their residents and the nation.

Sincerely,

State Representative Eddie Morales Jr.

 

City of Eagle Pass International Bridge System Total Non-Commercial & Pedestrian Revenue Comparison 2019-2021

2019-2020                2020-2021                Difference     Percentage

April               $757,980.00              $327,563.00              -$430,417 .00            -57%

May                 $844,549.00              $418,499.00              -$426,050.00            -50%

June                $860,530.00              $474,078.00              -$386,452.00            -45%

July                 $864,423.00              $472,204.00              -$392,219.00            -45%

August            $868,838.00              $491,321.00              -$377,517.00            -43%

September*   $790,218.00              $604,064.00              -$186,154.00            -24%

October*         $819,356.00              $751,551.00              -$67,805.00              -8%

November*    $851,094.00              $714,755.00              -$136,339.00            -16%

December*     $962,625.00              $869,213.00              -$93,412.00              -10%

January*         $791,852.00              $698,783.00              -$93,069.00              -12%

February*      $810,176.00              $635,018.00              -$175,158.00            -22%

March*           $677,093.00              $777,599.00              $100,506.00              15%

Grand Total  $9,898,734.00          $7,234,648.00          -$2,664,086.00        -27%

*Toll was adjusted +$1.50 non-commercial and +$.50 pedestrians in 2020, March 2021 -$1.00 Non-Commercial

City of Eagle Pass International Bridge System Non-Commercial Vehicle Traffic Comparison 2019-2021

                        2019-2020    2020-2021    Difference      Percentage

April               213,004         95,659            -117,345        -55%

May                 240,222         120,445         -119,777        -50%

June                246,097         137,097         -109,000        -44%

July                 246,649         136,422         -110,227        -45%

August            248,233         130,415         -117,818        -47%

September     225,992         114,677         -111,315        -49%

October          234,561         144,390         -90,171          -38%

November      242,953         136,324         -106,629        -44%

December      272,508         166,390         -106,118        -39%

January          226,833         134,360         -92,473          -41%

February        233,023         123,182         -109,841        -47%

March             194,327         165,270         -29,057          -15%

Grand Total  2,824,402      1,604,631      -1,219,771    -43%

City of Eagle Pass International Bridge System

Pedestrian Traffic Comparison 2019-2021

                        2019-2020    2020-2021    Difference      Percentage

April               67,388            17,293            -50,095          -74%

May                 58,523            28,958            -29,565          -51%

June                46,484            28,426            -18,058          -39%

July                 49,566            28,364            -21,202          -43%

August            49,984            25,663            -24,321          -49%

September     49,689            31,136            -18,553          -37%

October          51,800            30,405            -21,395          -41%

November      53,128            32,043            -21,085          -40%

December      63,655            34,136            -29,519          -46%

January          51,486            29,042            -22,444          -44%

February        46,204            21,345            -24,859          -54%

March             41,797            37,439            -4,358            -10%

Grand Total  629,704         344,250         -285,454        -45%