Express-News Editorial Board – Updated 5:57 pm, Thursday, April 25, 2013
San Antonio and South and Central Texas are connected with Mexico by shared history, traditions and people — and connected by something else as well. Governments and policies change, but commerce has been a given throughout.
The sponsors of a new report on one nuance of this commerce give this niche a name — Texas retail as an export. Which is to say that Mexican nationals come to shop and take their purchases home.
It is a relationship that brought $2.68 billion to the region last year in shopping dollars, according to the report by the Strategic Alliance for Business and Economic Research Institute, or SABER, a collaboration of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and St. Mary’s University.
That $2.68 billion is up 12.9 percent from 2011 across the 20-county region identified in the report. Bexar County alone netted about $373.9 million and nearly 4,000 jobs from the relationship. The figures, which do not include real estate buys, are calculated from VISA card purchases by Mexican nationals here and Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas data.
Though this trade has endured through governments and changed policies, this doesn’t mean that either can’t affect commerce. And this is something to keep in mind as Congress contemplates immigration reform that also includes proposals for enhanced border security.
Congress needs to guard against unintended consequences. Other sectors insulate San Antonio and Bexar County from recession more, but this report makes it clear that spending by Mexican nationals is a beneficial factor.
If nothing else, Congress can look at this report as confirmation for what Texas has long known — a border freer for commerce has immense benefits for growth on both sides.