Thursday, January 24, 2013
The man who oversees inspections at the San Diego area’s border crossings gave a State of the Ports address on Thursday. Some progress is being made on easing border wait times, but big improvements are still a ways off.
SAN DIEGO The ports of entry in San Diego and Imperial County handled nearly 40 percent of all pedestrian and passenger traffic along the U.S.-Mexico border last year, and more drugs were seized at these border crossings than anywhere else in the nation.
Pete Flores, director of the San Diego Field Office for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, shared these figures in his State of the Ports address before members of the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce.
The high traffic and security concerns help explain why U.S.-bound border crossers often wait two to three hours. But relief is in the works — in various stages.
Mexican and U.S. officials are working on a joint pre-inspection facility where cargo would be screened just south of the U.S. border, with the hope of alleviating commercial traffic at the border itself. Other pre-inspection facilities are planned for the Laredo International Airport in Texas and the Foxconn maquiladora complex near Ciudad Juárez.
Private developers have said they hope to break ground by the end of the year on a cross-border terminal, whereby passengers traveling through the Tijuana International Airport could get to and from the U.S. without leaving the terminal.
At the San Ysidro border crossing from Tijuana, the first phase of renovation is on track for completion by mid-2014. That will mean more lanes and inspection booths, which should speed up wait times.
But further planned improvements at San Ysidro, including eight more lanes and an expanded pedestrian crossing, still await funding from Congress.