TIJUANA (Border Report) — Mexico needs U.S. border officials to remove physical barriers and move officers to inspection booths in order to help get commuters through the San Ysidro Port of Entry a lot quicker.
It’s part of a pilot program meant to ease wait times at the border, and despite a lackluster launch that actually made things worse on Tuesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection remains non-committal, saying it was “the Mexican government’s program.”
Mexican officials, including Tijuana Mayor Monserrat Caballero, say they are giving the pilot program two more weeks to show it will work.
The plan calls for a checkpoint on the Mexican side where commuters must show their travel documents long before they get to the U.S. port of entry. The screenings are being conducted by Mexican police officers, National Guard troops and customs agents at a checkpoint just south of the border.
However, CBP already operates its own immigration checkpoint about 100 yards from the actual inspection booths, in an area often referred to as the “yellow line” — the official boundary between the U.S. and Mexico.
CBP officers stationed on the yellow line guard gaps along a fence and barrier system to prevent migrants from forcing their way onto the U.S. territory, where they can ask for asylum. Under the new program, Mexcian officials would provide some of that security.
These barriers block several lanes of traffic, creating bottlenecks and delays for border-crossers, who typically wait up to three hours during the morning commute into the U.S.
The goal of the program is to open up those lanes and have those U.S. border officers staff more inspection booths.
On Tuesday, when Border Report asked CBP if it was on board and agreed to open more lanes at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the agency was non-committal, referring all questions to Mexico’s government, calling it “their program.”
However, the U.S. Consul General in Tijuana, Thomas E. Reott, has come out in support of the plan.
“The opening of more inspection booths at the San Ysidro Port of Entry will depend on how effective this inspection filter is,” said Reott. “Once we are sure that it’s working, the U.S. will move agents away from the yellow line to open more booths expediting crossings.”
Montserrat remains hopeful the program will work even though she admitted the first day was less than stellar with border waits increasing instead of getting shorter.
“It’s gotten better since,” she said. “If we can continue with this fluidity we’ll keep going, but if complaints persist and we can see traffic remains unbearable, we’ll take it down.”