EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – El Paso and Juarez, Mexico, will no longer be in different time zones starting on Wednesday.
The move not only will cut down on confusion among international travelers but also put Juarez manufacturing plants back in line with El Paso warehousing and transportation networks, border leaders said.
“We are one community when it comes to work and family life. Being in different time zones is complicated. It affects students, workers and businesspeople who may live on one side of the border and have activities on the other side,” Juarez Mayor Cruz Perez Cuellar said on Tuesday, confirming the time change.
El Paso has been one hour behind Juarez since daylight saving time ended in the U.S. on Nov. 6. Juarez for the first time in 12 years failed to get an exemption from the Mexican government and it took lawmakers in the state of Chihuahua three weeks to fix that oversight in Mexico City.
“It’s important to be on the same time for many reasons (including) productivity. You lose money when you must keep workers on overtime because the merchandise from Juarez arrives later than usual,” said Thor Salayandia, president of the Juarez Chamber of Industry. “The bottom line is you have to be in sync with your clients, and where are our most important clients? They are in the U.S.”
Juarez is home to more than 300 manufacturing plants (called maquiladoras) that produce auto parts, computer boards and other components for companies in the U.S. and Europe. Most of those products are trucked across the border into El Paso for distribution elsewhere.
Also, thousands of people – from El Paso residents visiting family in Mexico or going to the doctor, to Juarez children going to school in El Paso and parents coming to shop – cross the border every day and have had to adjust their schedules up to now.
El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser welcomed the change ahead of the year-end holidays.
“We are a binational and bicultural community and have deep and longstanding personal and professional relationships on both sides of the border,” Leeser said on Tuesday. “Being in a different time zone was affecting families, businesses and trade. This decision is greatly welcomed and great progress just in time for the holidays.”
The time change applies only to Juarez and Ojinaga – across from Presidio, Texas, and small towns bordering the U.S. Chihuahua City, home to around 50 additional maquiladoras and one international airport, will remain one hour ahead of the border cities.