Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Border Violence Creates Economic Boom in El Paso

El Paso, Texas has received an unexpected economic boost due to the increasing violence in Ciudad Juárez, the Mexican city on the other side of the Rio Grande. As entrepreneurs come to the United States to escape the drug violence, they have been coming to this city of 600,000 to open new clubs and restaurants.

Chief executive of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Cindy Ramos-Davidson, said that she and her staff were swamped by Juárez businesspeople wanting to set up shop in El Paso. In a period of one year they started up 200 companies which was a 40% increase from the year prior.

“It’s the largest migration of wealthy Mexican nationals [to El Paso] since the Mexican Revolution,” said Beto O’Rourke, an El Paso city councilman. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people are being driven to El Paso as a safe place to live. There are no exact numbers, but according to real estate agents there has been an increase in home sales to former Juárez residents.

It is no surprise that so many people are making the move – the number of murders in Juárez grew to more than 300 a month by September 2009. While many people fear the violence will spill across the border to El Paso, the city remains one of the safest in the nation for its size – with only 10 murders in 2009.

Aril Anzures recently moved to El Paso and opened a branch of his family’s burrito business after several kidnapping attempts. “It was getting pretty awful,” he said. “We’re not rich people, but we had to travel with bodyguards.” Many of his clients at his new location are also Juárez expatriates and Anzures says that business is good and he does not worry about his safety.

Many of these new arrivals are also bringing with them a nightlife that was never present in El Paso. Since the influx, many El Paso residents have cut back on their visits to Mexico and are now able to enjoy a number of new nightclubs in town.

Lucdinda Vargas, director of a nonprofit organization that promotes development in Juárez, said “you can definitely feel their absence,” explaining that the departures are making it more difficult to reclaim Juárez from drug lords.

Some El Paso residents are benefiting greatly from the influx. Jorge Villegas, a local contactor, said that people from Juárez make up more than half of his construction projects.  Pedro Gómez, owner of a landscaping business, said that he too has gotten a lot of business from Juárez transplants.

Wall Street Journal


  1. Interesting!!

    I would have never expected there to be a bright side to the horrific violence occurring south of the border. It is unfortunate though, that the new economic prosperity for El Paso means a more difficult fight to get Juarez back from the drug lords. Hopefully this drug war ends soon!