EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Border residents and businesses are scrambling to adjust to being in a different time zone for the first time in more than a decade.
When El Paso and most U.S. cities set their clocks back an hour early Sunday, Mexico did nothing. That left El Paso one hour behind Juarez for the first time in 12 years.
“It is very inconvenient. We would like to keep existing industry and keep attracting new industry. Having production based in Juarez in one time zone and our logistics and supply base north of the border on a different time zone is not ideal at all,” said Jerry Pacheco, president and CEO of the Border Industrial Association.
He was referring to Juarez’s 330 U.S.-run factories that produce parts for the electronics, auto and medical industries – a time-sensitive production chain on which businesses from Denver to Chicago depend.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said there were no disruptions in cargo inspections in the El Paso Sector on Monday. That’s because Mexican customs modified their hours of operation to match its American counterparts, the agency told Border Report.
Juarez residents like Jose Manuel Castaneda, whose daughter commutes to school from Juarez to El Paso also dislike the time disparity. “It took us by surprise. We are not sure what time it is over there and if she’s going to be late,” he said.
Mexican businesses that cater to U.S. tourists are concerned about having to usher out American visitors an hour earlier. They have petitioned Chihuahua state government to let them stay open an extra hour, but state officials said no and warned their inspectors would do the rounds to make sure they close when they’re supposed to. Liquor stores and beer depots will now close at 9 p.m. El Paso time, restaurants at 11 p.m. and bars, nightclubs and party halls at 1 a.m., Chihuahua officials said in a statement.
Pacheco said he hopes both cities can be in the same time zone soon.
“I remember when people would make an appointment in Juarez and forget that Juarez was an hour ahead,” he said.
Juarez is a medical tourism destination with dozens of dental, physician and clinical laboratories located within half a mile of four U.S. border crossings.
Juarez Mayor Cruz Perez Cuellar said officials are working so that the Mexican federal government will let the city opt out of the new system and once again be on the same time as El Paso. Deputies that represent Juarez in the Mexican congress are petitioning for an exemption, but that could take a week or two at the earliest to get approved.
“This is an issue decided at the federal level, but they should have given more thought to what is going on at the border,” Perez Cuellar said. “I think it is in our best interest that our border community shares the same time (zone).”