CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It's been more than a year that we've lived with restrictions for non-essential travel at our borders.
Starting today, it's looking up for border communities like El Paso, Texas, and neighboring Ciudad Juarez.
"I feel like as soon as they lift those travel restrictions that’s going to come back,” said AJ Gonzalez, co-owner of Sam's Smoke Shop.
What's going to come back?
Gonzalez is talking about customers of Sam's Smoke Shop in El Paso, not just those in the city but from across the border in Mexico.
“Before the restrictions it was always packed between Thursday and Sunday," Gonzalez said. "And now its really dead on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays maybe even sometimes on Sundays,"
That's been the case for more than a year and a half.
In March 2020, former President Donald Trump began restricting non-essential travel with Canadian and Mexican land crossings. And when President Biden took office, he extended those restrictions.
That impacted businesses and families.
“One of the things that was impacted the most is that not being able to visit your family at all,” said Jose Leal, who lives in the Coastal Bend but most of his family lives in Edinburg. Some of those family members cross over into Mexico to visit loved ones.
“When you start having those barriers that you cannot cross over it adds a lot of stress to the family," he said.
For last Christmas there was no way to cross over without written proof of essential travel. But now, more families will have the opportunity for a happy reunion during the upcoming holiday season.
“Now that Thanksgiving and Christmas is coming around it’ll make it a lot easier for everyone,” said Leal.
In order to enter the United States, non-citizen travelers need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination and vouch for their reason for travel and their COVID-19 vaccination status during a border inspection.