Drop in border profits seen in wake of terrorist attacks

November 12, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

MEXICALI — Businesses here that count on U.S. dollars have seen a steep drop in profits since the border crackdown following the Sept. 11 attacks on this nation.

After the attacks, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service beefed up security efforts by requiring border crossers to pass through metal detectors and show picture identification cards. The added measures have made waits to cross into the U.S. longer. Mexican officials have also stepped up inspection efforts on that side of the border in recent weeks, significantly slowing the entry into that country.

While recent steps have been taken by the INS to speed up the lines, there is still a perception throughout the Valley that a trip into Mexico and back will take longer than before.

According to Mexicali business executives and those visiting here Friday, that perception is affecting tourism.

A supervisor at the Caliente Sportsbook, right across the border from Calexico, put a price tag on the loss in business since Sept. 11. at "$60,000 in bets."


The supervisor, Julio Marquez, said businesses throughout Mexicali have been affected because they count on U.S. dollars.

Recently at Caliente, 5 to 10 percent of the clientele is U.S. citizens.

Marquez hopes to see that number rise around "Turkey Day" and December as snowbirds flock back to the border area.

One of the U.S. bettors in Caliente on Friday said the increased security at the border has greatly affected the crossing habits of U.S. citizens.

"Oh definitely," the El Centro man said as he shuffled win tickets for a Palm Beach greyhound race.

While he asked to remain anonymous, he ventured to explain Mexicali's dilemma.

"It's easy to get down here but when you do you realize that it's going to take an hour and a half to get back," he said.

Luis Saracho, manager of a popular bar called Molcajetes off Avenido Justo Sierra, said there have been fewer U.S. residents stopping by on their way to dance clubs in the evening but business at his bar has been steady.

"I've heard of other people in town having problems but this place is traditional in Mexicali," Saracho said.

Down the calle at the Hotel Lucerna, three U.S. dove hunters sat on the lobby's front steps waiting for a ride.

They come to Mexicali about three times a year and didn't cancel their trip last week because of the increased security measures.

But one of the hunters, Bob Dahl of Los Angeles, said there is a lingering perception that crossing the border is troublesome right now.

"People are worried about the wait in line," he said.

He said there are probably 15 percent fewer hunters this year.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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