Texas and parts of Mexico fell out of step this week after the hour regressed in Texas and remained unchanged in Chihuahua, adding another layer of logistical gymnastics to the border crossing routine.
For more than two decades, the sister cities of El Paso and Juárez have kept their clockwork the same and residents sane, “springing forward” and “falling back” together on the same day and hour, as one. Thousands of Borderland residents crisscross with such frequency that gaining or losing an hour multiple times per day provoked an immediate, collective mental strain when El Paso returned to Mountain Standard Time and Juárez stayed in daylight savings time over the weekend.
It appears it was all a big mistake.
The Mexican congress passed a law on Oct. 30 eliminating daylight saving time in 26 states. The law granted exceptions to the country’s northern border states but failed to include its largest border state, Chihuahua.
“Federal representatives from Chihuahua didn’t present the required accord regarding standardizing the hour with our counterpart border communities,” said Rogelio Ramos Guevara, president of the business association CANACO in Juárez. “By contrast, the representatives from Tijuana did.”
Unlike Tijuana, Nuevo Laredo and other Mexican border cities granted exceptions under the new national time scheme, Juárez was unable to roll back its clocks on Nov. 6.
“It takes us back to the old days before El Paso and Juárez stayed on Mountain Standard Time,” said Jerry Pacheco, president of the Border Industrial Association. “Back then it was chaos. So many people would set an appointment and forget Mexico was on a different time part of the year.”
The “old days” were before the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect in 1994, when trade across the entire U.S.-Mexico border was a fraction of what it is today in the “Borderplex” region encompassing El Paso, Santa Teresa and Juárez.
Today, every month, between 65,000 and 75,000 cargo trucks pass through El Paso’s two commercial ports of entry, according to an analysis of data by the Border Region Modeling Project at UTEP.
The personal ties between the two cities are evident in the data: In August alone, El Paso international bridges logged roughly 1 million personal vehicle crossings and 400,000 pedestrian crossings, according to the data analysis.