Why Do People Cross the Border? SANDAG Report Reveals What's Happening in Both Directions

The San Ysidro Port of Entry
Miguel Monroy

A new report issued by the San Diego Association of Governments on Friday shows when and why people are crossing the international border in San Diego County.

"The purpose [of conducting the study] is to gather information and have that data input into our models that we use to do the planning for transportation … in San Diego," said Hector Vanegas, SANDAG's borders program manager, adding that, "something that is important to say is that the impact of border crossing is important for both regions."

Over 6,400 Mexican and 1,400 U.S. weekday travelers were interviewed for the survey, SANDAG reported. Interestingly, a similar report was ordered in 2010, and the findings this time around don't differ drastically, officials said.

Mexican visitors to the United States interviewed for the survey typically spent a little over 6 hours in the U.S., while Americans headed in the other direction spent much more time there, an average of 2 days.

The survey, which SANDAG conducted in 2019 and the beginning of 2020, shows that most of the border crossers headed south were San Diegans (57%), and also shows that the primary purpose of the majority of visitors headed north was shopping (52%), with most of them visiting businesses in the South Bay (78%).

NBC 7's Catherine Garcia has more.

Other primary purposes for Mexicans headed into the United States through the San Ysidro, Otay Mesa and Tecate ports of entry?

  • 31%: Work
  • 9%: Visiting a friend or relative
  • 2%: Medical
  • 2%: School
  • 1%: Dining

According to the survey, though, the primary purposes of U.S. residents going to Mexico were to visit a friend or relative (54%), receive medical treatment (12%) or for a vacation (5%). Shopping was listed as a primary reason for travel by far fewer travelers heading south (10%) than north.

The full report can be viewed here.

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