By Suzanne Gamboa
EL PASO, Texas – Edgar Salazar, a dental surgeon based in Ciudad Juarez, across the Mexican border, was standing a few steps from a slow traffic on a bridge, worried about American customers coming not to go to his office while the Trump administration called a border "crisis".
Customers postpone their appointments or have stopped coming to avoid backups of traffic on the bridges connecting El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. Some fear being stranded on the Mexican side of the border, he said.
"It's stressful because you do not know what's going to happen, when they're going to give an order" to close the border, Salazar said.
Residents, businessmen and immigrant rights advocates feel the pressure exerted by President Donald Trump on closing the border, said Thursday that he was warning Mexico against "a year "to deter migrants from traveling to the United States. and control the flow of drugs.
Despite the president's imminent threats, including the imposition of customs duties on cars that Mexico exports to the United States, the administration has reduced manpower at the points of entry, the traffic lanes cross-border and inspection process in response to the arrival of hundreds of migrants each day to the border area between El Paso and southern New Mexico.
On the deck of the Americas in Cordoba, a window cleaner, who was wiping the windshield of a motorist waiting on the bridge heading for the United States, said the slowdown had hurt his business, while the traffic was blocked longer.
"People are crazy," he said before appealing to other drivers.
A salesman who sold elotes (roasted corn sprinkled with Mexican cheese and chili spices) said the slowdown was not generating more business. "They wait, but they do not eat," he says, not wanting to be named.
At a press conference in El Paso on March 27, Customs and Border Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said the agency was going to move 750 workers from the customs and border protection, inspecting cross-border traffic and exchanges instead of influxes of men, women and children. across the border.
He warned that this would slow down trade, traffic and pedestrian flows.
No border closure at the moment, but feel the effects
The president's actions have had a deterrent effect, said Jon Barela, CEO of The Borderplex Alliance, a non-profit organization representing businesses in El Paso, southern New Mexico and Ciudad Juarez.
"I have received several calls from corporate representatives who are concerned about our organization and how this shutdown threat affects their business in the short term and in the long run, how it could be devastating for their business," he said. declared.
Jeff Mosely, president and CEO of the Texas Association of Business, said his members were "very, very concerned" about the slowdowns and potential stops.
"There is no acceptable time to close the Texas border because every day equals $ 1.7 billion in trade, and even to play with the idea of closing the Border for a day has a big impact on jobs and wages, "said Moseley, who hears companies all along the border. "We must settle immigration. We must find a bipartisan solution. Trade is not the way to go.
Mexico is the largest trading partner of the United States, totaling $ 616 billion in 2017, generating more than 1.2 million jobs in 2015, according to the US Trade Representative's Office website.
Pedestrians returning to the United States moved quickly Wednesday night, across the bridge, while only one line was open at the port of entry and only one of the agents checked the passports. Some other agents inspected handbags and handbags and others were in secondary inspection.
Deseray Pedregon, 31, of El Paso, said she had gone to Juarez for an appointment at a hair salon.
"I was trying to get home fast because I was afraid it was closed," Pedregon said. Her sister was crossing more frequently and told her that she needed more than five hours to get back from Juarez, she said.
Trump is asking Mexico to do more to reject the Americans from Central America who are crossing Mexico to get to the US border.
Asylum seekers are protected by US law as well as by international laws that the United States has signed, even if they cross the border without legal authorization.
The Trump administration said the migrants were exploiting the asylum laws to enter the United States.
Defenders disagree and point to violence and political unrest, corruption and poverty in Central America. They say that the administration has created chaos at the border by closing legal entry doors to asylum seekers and forcing them to cross the border illegally, thus increasing the number of people apprehended by border patrol.
A credit card bill of $ 17,619.68
Because border patrol facilities are not equipped to take care of migrant families, they have released them into communities.
For several days in El Paso, the border patrol closed an area under one of the city's international bridges and kept migrant families there. This area has been cleaned up, but the Border Patrol has set up tents near a CBP facility in another part of the city, according to reported information.
Rubén Garcia, founder and executive director of Annunciation House, had exchanged a credit card for $ 17,619.68 just moments ago to pay for 62 rooms and a ballroom at the hotel.
NBC News has been allowed to talk to newly released migrants about their background and provided they are neither named nor identified.
A man from Guatemala was under the bridge with his 8-year-old son for five days. He had once tried to travel to the United States when his son was six, but Mexico expelled him when he arrived there. But he earned too little work in the fields to survive in his country, so he tried again.
The Border Patrol sends 600 to 700 migrants a day to Annunciation House and the shelter network, too numerous to be housed in Annunciation House's downtown.
Mike Ochoa, 67, owner of a rental property in a neighborhood near the US bridge in the United States, said he fully supports Trump's actions at the border.
Ochoa was born and raised in El Paso and her mother is an immigrant. According to him, he crossed the border "legally, waited his turn". Ochoa said that he never went to Juarez, but he has tenants who do it because they have family in Mexico.
A border closure, he said, "would put the icing on the cake, because then (Mexico) would see Trump doing business," said Ochoa.
On Tuesday, CBP met with representatives of the commercial sector in El Paso and told them that the cargo facilities at the Bridge of the Americas would be closed on Saturday and that cargo facilities would be closed indefinitely.
Semi-trailers and other commercial vehicles transporting goods from Mexico to the United States pass through the cargo facility for inspections and document processing. The cargo route of the bridge of the Americas is generally open from 6 am to 2 pm Saturday and CBP agents typically handle between 350 and 400 trucks during this period.
A freight facility on another bridge will be open, but it may be encumbered by additional traffic.
Professional organizations in Texas and New Mexico say that even without closure, the border and the United States are already feeling economic impact.
Angel Flores and Javier Heredia are part of this economic exchange between the United States and Mexico.
They told NBC News that it had taken them nine hours Wednesday to get the products they were delivering from Ciudad Juarez to El Paso.
Previously, the crossing took about an hour or two, said Heredia. In the past, they made three trips. Now, they only make one.
"It slows you down a lot. Imagine it. We arrive at 3am, 4am and cross at 4pm, "said Heredia from the cab of his company truck as Flores and he returned to Juarez in a queue. much faster.
"God willing, they will not close" the border, said Heredia.
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