Why People are Making the Daily Trek from Juarez to El Paso and Back Again

Jul 21, 2016

From Texas Standard:

El Paso and Juarez are sister cities of sorts. They share a border, cultural ties, and of course, economic ones. But even though the towns are close, the cost of living between the two are worlds apart.

Rent in Juarez is about a quarter of the rent in El Paso. The cheap cost of living is one reason why people are crossing over to earn dollars in the U.S., and then crossing back to spend pesos living in Mexico.

Tom Fullerton, chair for the Study of Trade in the Americas for the University of Texas at El Paso, says this trend is a "return to normalcy" after years of cartel violence from 2009 to 2012 terrorized Ciudad Juarez.

"Ciudad Juarez's rival cartels were trying to control that transit point for illegal narcotics into the United States," Fullerton says. "With the escalating violence, those who reside on the north side of the river stopped going to Juarez, a lot of people who reside in Ciudad Juarez moved away."

Now that violence has subsided, people are moving back to Juarez and spending their money there. Also, the peso has weakened against the dollar, so people are more likely to spend their money south of the border.

"It also makes it more affordable for residents in the United States to go across the river and take advantages of shopping opportunities," he says, "whether for goods or services. and that has helped accelerate the return to normalcy in terms of border economic and commercial patterns."

Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.

Produced with help from Texas Standard intern Anna Casey.