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International shoppers return to south Texas businesses after land border crossings reopen

This week the land border crossings re-opened after nearly two years to vaccinated non-citizens coming in for non-essential purposes.

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Many border communities rely on the traffic and customers from Mexico for their revenue.

Cities like Laredo have struggled since the bridges connecting the two countries were mostly closed to non-citizens. Representative Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Laredo, has talked about it at length in the months following the closure.

On Monday the land border crossings re-opened after nearly two years to vaccinated non-citizens coming in for non-essential purposes.

Rebecca Rodriguez, who owns Space Dog Station in downtown Brownsville, already noticed the difference.

“The border opened up on Monday and we've been seeing a lot more people walking by here shopping and you know, and taking stuff back and forth,” she told KENS 5.

Rodriguez took a chance two months ago during the closure and opened up her business, naming it in honor of SpaceX.

Her restaurant is just steps away from the border with Mexico and the international bridge connecting the two countries.

“They (shoppers) travel from Mexico over here,” she said. "They come out here and they'll shop down here in downtown Brownsville. We've been seeing quite a few new faces.”

The Rio Grande Valley economy missed its customers. Some businesses didn’t survive, since many shoppers have not been able to cross starting March of 2020 when the government shut the border for most travel, citing COVID-19.

But Monday marked a new chapter.

Rodriguez is hoping more new businesses like hers will pop up, continuing the long tradition of serving shoppers from across the border and at home.

Right now, non-citizens coming for non-essential purposes are required to be vaccinated.

Starting in January all foreign national travelers coming in through the ports of entry or ferry terminals will be required to have the vaccine.