Fears About Pandemic Not Keeping Students From Cross-Border Travel

Many University of Texas at El Paso students say they’re more worried about getting COVID-19 from fellow classmates, than in Mexico.

By Angela KochergaMarch 13, 2020 3:24 pm, ,

While Texas colleges and universities are telling students and staff to avoid travel to countries considered high risk for the coronavirus, for now, Mexico is not on that list.

Cancun and other beach resorts are popular destinations during students’ spring break.

But on the border some students travel back and forth from Texas to Mexico on a daily basis.

On the border, Mexico is more than a vacation spot for students like Heriberto Perez Jr. It’s his home.

“There’s no serious case right here, so I’m relaxed about that,” Perez said. “Living in Juarez and crossing every day … it’s not a problem for me right now. I’m not thinking about it at all.”

Late Thursday, Mexico reported 13 confirmed COVID-19 cases, far lower than the number of cases reported so far in the United States.

Some 650 students at UTEP have addresses in neighboring Juarez, according to the university. Although the number of commuters is probably much higher. Others, like Sofia Portugal, live in El Paso but go back and forth to Juarez on regular basis.

“I visit my grandparents, so I go at least twice a week,” Portugal said.

President Trump said he was contemplating closing the border with Mexico, but now says that is not under consideration.