We live in a border town and underage drinking is particularly affected by this. Border cities like El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, have the disadvantage of experiencing a major problem with binge drinking. Unfortunately, everyone is affected by this issue. We see this on a daily basis. For some of us, crossing the bridge is part of our daily routine. Whether it is driving over to buy groceries or to visit family we are always commuting back and forth to Mexico. We could not imagine living anywhere else because we have grown accustomed to having access to countless things that are not available in the U.S or less expensive in Mexico. We are influenced so much by this, without even knowing, because this is the largest port of entry in the world. At times we do not see what the problem is, mostly because we wake up every day expecting to see Mexico outside our window; also taking it for granted. Even though being a border town is an advantage it is also a disadvantage. Due to our easy access many teens find it simple just cross over to Mexico to consume alcohol where the legal drinking age is eighteen and even this is not enforced. In the past, bar owners have been known to serve children as young as twelve years old (Rio Grande Safe Communities Article).
Is it really worth it?
In order for the clubs in Mexico to capture the attention of the teenagers, they post flyers and make announcements advertising their convenient, low liquor prices. They advertise things such as, “All you can drink, party all night long for just $2.99 (14)!” Of the teens that go party in Mexico, 46.9 percent stated to have “the intention to get drunk,” 33.4 percent have “ the intention to get slightly buzzed,” 19.6 percent go but do not drink
(14). In 2004 at
the Tijuana, Mexico- San Isidro, California border, every Friday and Saturday
there were approximately 771 “Driving Under the Influence” violations for
those crossing back from Mexico between the hours of 12:00 and 5:00 a.m.
Due to these alarming statistics, “on March 14, 2006, the El Paso City Council passed a ‘Special Curfew Ordinance’ to curtail underage cross-border binge drinking … As a result, young people, ages 17 and under, will not be permitted in the two specified zones adjacent to the downtown pedestrian bridges leading into Juarez, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, between the hours of 7:00 PM and 6:00 AM.”
(RGSC article). If this law is violated, the minor is detained at the bridge, the parents are called to pick up their child and they will have to pay a fine of $500.
Mexico is also enforcing its own curfew laws. In Ciudad Juarez, another ordinance was passed stating that,
“Local authorities announced June 13, 2007 that unaccompanied minors under the age of 18 are prohibited from loitering in the public areas of downtown Ciudad Juarez from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. This is an effort to reduce criminal activity and protect minors from becoming victims of crime. Minors found in violation of this policy will be taken into protective custody. Those residing in the U.S. will be taken to the international bridge (US Consulate General).”
This curfew was later extended to other areas of Juarez as well. The security risks at the border include drunken fights and riots, alcohol and drug related arrests, medical emergencies such as alcohol poisoning, impaired driving resulting in collisions, inadvertent smuggling of contraband, and distraction of INS and customs officials.