By Alicia Neaves
PRESIDIO/OJINAGA - A travel advisory released by the U.S. Department of State pinpoints a town across the border from West Texas as a place you might want to avoid.
Now, city leaders and residents on both sides of the border are concerned that this travel advisory is hurting their tourism in what they say is possibly the safest part of the Texas/Mexico border.
In the travel advisory issued May 5, for the State of Chihuahua, it says to exercise caution when traveling to the urban area of Ojinaga, the sister city of Presidio. Something officials tell NewsWest 9 is not only untrue but damaging to their economies.
"Presidio and Ojinaga depend on tourism to stay alive," said Miguel Hernandez, owner of Don Jose Bakery in Presidio.
"If you talk to anybody that has visited the border here in Presidio or Big Bend National Park, they'll tell you that these are some of the safest places in the whole state of Texas," said John Ferguson, Mayor of the City of Presidio.
The U.S. Department of State says it warns U.S. citizens about the risk of traveling to certain places in Mexico due to threats to safety and security posed by organized criminal groups in the country.
"What we see is because of that advisory, people in general, just kind of stay away from Presidio because of the advisory which is in another country. So it's hurting our tourism and I think you can probably say its hurting our commerce as well," said Ferguson.
Business owners in Presidio say it's unfair to paint the Texas/Mexico border with the same paint brush. Not all border towns are the same.
"Many people, when they hear this, they get scared and they believe it. Right? But it's not correct. It's not correct. It hurts our tourism, whatever happens in Ojinaga, it could be something minor, the media makes it a huge deal," said Roberto Calderon, owner of Restaurante D'Charly in Presidio.
"The commerce we have with people crossing to Mexico, with people crossing into Presidio, many aren't coming anymore because they're scared," said Hernandez.
On Thursday, Presidio leaders were in Washington D.C. discussing the international bridge of Presidio/Ojinaga. The mayors of both cities are also teaming up to address the validity of this travel advisory and how they can change the minds of those who write it.
"Ask them to reassess the situation, ask them how they arrive at these conclusions and see if there's maybe something we can do to paint the picture a little differently for next time," said Ferguson.