Border Crossing

Border Crossing

Having always loved Latin music, food, clothing and culture, my first trip to Mexico was dreamt about for years before it actually occurred. Last week I was able to live that dream when we crossed into Progreso from Texas. This was supposed to be a time of intense joy as a lifelong dream of visiting Mexico was finally achieved. However, the experience was sorely spoiled by the government on our side of the border. Here’s why:

I’ve crossed some 20 borders in my day, and not one of them has required me to pay for the privilege of exiting and re-entering the country. But, believe it or not, this is exactly what happens when you cross the land border between Texas and Mexico. In order to pass you must deposit a shiny quarter into the waiting mouth of a machine before it will grant passage into Mexico. Roughly 19,750 million American visit Mexico each year. This number times .25 = $4,937,500. That’s four million bucks the US government makes on American cross-border transportation. While I completely understand that the US-Mexico border needs funds in order to operate, I have a small problem understanding why this is the only border in the world that requires this payment. Side note: the Mexican side charges .35 cents to each person exiting the country for America. They make over 6 million a year.

Many people, Texans mostly, travel to Mexico to buy cheap goods. Cheaper liquor is one such item folks will traverse the borders in search of. While in Mexico we did what many other gringos around us were doing– we shopped, ate enchiladas, had a few margaritas and then bought a bottle of booze to carry across the border to America. While in 2009 the laws stipulated that each citizen could bring back a bottle a month, untaxed, something has changed. We were stopped by rude and rough border guards who demanded $1.25 per liter of liquor. There was no explanation, just a demanding voice, a gloved palm reaching through bars and a continued barking of the order to pay up. There was no willingness to explain, no literature on why the tax was suddenly applies to each bottle entering the country. Sigh.

I don’t want it to seem like the trip to Mexico wasn’t amazing—because it was! A small mariachi band played while we sat on a balcony overlooking the main street having margaritas, children rode their bikes up and down the main drag while adults sold a sundry of baskets, rugs and other items to passing tourists. The food was good, the people were friendly and not pushy, and despite being within spiting distance of the USA, the culture was unique to Mexico and very vibrant. Hotel Del Arco Los Cabos is a great place to stay while traveling through the Cabo San Lucas area.

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  • Mike says:

    I love going over to Mexico, but you are right, the minute you cross back into the US you have to get out your wallet right away to pay taxes on stuff you bought – mostly alcohol. It is unfortunate we have never had to pay taxes on items when entering other countries, with the exception of visas, and the country most persistent is our own. Being able to view these things from an outside perspective has really made me realize that ‘we’ accept some really strange and annoying situations posed to us and usually without question. My parents say I spent too much time in China and am having a hard time readjusting, but who knows…

  • Lisa says:

    You have to pay to enter most countries, usually much more than $.25. The fees are hidden in Visa applications and plane tickets.

  • Norm Rourke says:

    The bridge at Progreso has been a privately owned bridge operated by Texas Mexico Bridges for many years. There are others along the Texas-Mexico border. Check out: TexasMexicoBridges.com. As for the taxes paid on liquor and tobacco returning to U.S. @ Texas crossing, these are state taxes required by Texas. Keep in mind: U. S. is tax crazy to begin with and a good part of this money is wasted on so-called “friends” e.g., the nabob of Afghanistan who struts around wearing his tailored cape and silly hat,Pakistan who gets $$$ from U. S. AND the Taliban, goes into the pockets of U. S. politicians or pays off their special interests buddies.

  • Will says:

    When you buy liquor “duty free” that is exactly what you pay when you come back with it.. It is still a significant savings over buying it in the U.S. When you buy liquor in the U.S. the government has already taxed the liquor and I guarantee it is a lot more than $1.25 a bottle. It’s that much on a single pack of cigarettes bought here in the US.

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