Criminal screenings cause major delays at border crossings
Friday, February 17, 2006
Increased scrutiny of border crossers' documents is causing massive delays in the pedestrian and bus lanes at the San Yisdro Port of Entry. Port officials say the program will be rolled out in vehicle lanes soon. KPBS Reporter Amy Isackson has the story.
A federal mandate requires that everyone who crosses the border is thoroughly screened against a criminal database.
Before January, San Ysidro Port Director Jame Hynes says just 15 percent of border crossers were fully vetted. He says now they're checking between 60 to 70 percent and are aiming for 100 percent.
Hynes can't say why the federal mandate was not being enforced before he took over the director's post four months ago. He says his agency is enforcing it now because it has an obligation to use all tools at its disposal.
Hynes: "We have law enforcement databases that we need to take full advantage of and in order to do that we have to query people's names and dates of birth in our computer systems."
Hynes says criminal apprehensions have gone up 25 percent in the pedestrian lanes.
Though the queries have caused up to approximately four hour long delays.
It is estimated 97 percent of border crossers are frequent legal crossers. Amy Isackson, KPBS news.