A chaotic scene at the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday completely shut down a popular San Ysidro mall on what was expected to be a busy holiday shopping weekend.
The Las Americas Premium Outlets is located less than a mile west of the San Ysidro Port of Entry, where some Central American migrants on the Mexico side rushed the border, which led U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents to deploy tear gas on the group.
The incident also forced mall officials to evacuate the shopping center and close stores indefinitely.
“In light of this morning’s demonstrations, we have made the decision to temporarily close Las Americas,” a statement issued by the mall read.
The mall shuttered around noon Sunday as U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopters circled above the U.S.-Mexico border and a parade of armed agents posted just a few feet behind the shopping center.
It was not clear if the shopping center intended to reopen on Monday.
Inside a Ross Dress for Less, there was some panic and a lot of people dropped their items and ran out of the store, said Gustavo Zabala, who was shopping at the Las Americas outlets when the announcement was made.
“First a helicopters came by, then they just told everybody you need to get out. Buy all your stuff,” Zabala said.
In addition to Las Americas, the closure also affected other businesses in the area.
While it’s too early to tell what the economic impact of Sunday’s closure was, Las Americas’ proximity to the border makes it a shopping hot spot for many Mexican nationals, mainly from Tijuana.
University of San Diego economics professor Alan Gin told NBC 7 that since it is early in the shopping season, the effect could be minimal.
For those who made the trip down Sunday only to be met by a vacant lot, it was a bit of a disappointment.
“It’s a little inconvenient,” Juan Arellano said.
Las Americas officials said the shopping center would reopen on Monday.
Photo Credit: NBC 7
Source: NBC San Diego