While Spring Break may be over for most people across the country, that doesn’t mean tourism in South Padre Island is slowing down. With Easter week in full swing, the city expects about 13,000 vehicles coming in a day, many of which are coming from Mexico.

Cars with Mexican license plates are a sign that, despite the potentially dangerous journey, it’s still worth bringing the family on a vacation in the U.S. for many Mexicans.

For 23-year-old Estefani Carreon, it’s a family tradition, especially during holy week.

“We have an aunt who lives in McAllen and, when we come to visit, we all go to the island,” Carreon said.

For Mexican families to enjoy a vacation on the Texas coast means assuming certain risks, risks Guillermo Rocha and his family are fully aware of.

“Of course, we’re exposing ourselves,” Rocha said. “But if we don’t do it, we’re just going to stay at home behind closed doors.”

That’s no longer an option for many families tired of living in fear due to cartel violence.

Two weeks ago, the U.S. State Department updated the “do not travel” list of Mexican states. Tamaulipas, which borders the southern tip of Texas, often sees kidnappings and shootouts between police and cartels.

Mexican families like the Rocha’s are always looking for the quickest and safest way to the U.S. border.

“As soon as I cross over and set foot on U.S. soil, I feel relaxed, calm, safe more than anything,” Rocha admitted.

Taking a peaceful trip isn’t a luxury many in Mexico can afford. At the same time, these are tourists the Texas economy can’t afford to lose.

Author: Oscar Margain