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Border & Immigration

Mayors Of San Diego, Tijuana Hope To End Wait-Times Plaguing Their Border

Travelers enter the United States in San Ysidro, CA, one of the numerous crossings along the border.
Ruxandra Guidi
Travelers enter the United States in San Ysidro, CA, one of the numerous crossings along the border.

Two mayors are crossing borderlines to lobby their respective federal governments for comprehensive border reform. Like anyone who has crossed the San Yisdro port of entry since 9/11, the two mayors are sick of torturous border wait times.

Our reporter Adrian Florido recently talked with one motorist who exemplifies the outrageous time-suck engulfing anyone who wishes to cross from Tijuana to San Diego.

“I’ve been waiting about an hour,” he said, “And I estimate the entire wait’s going to be two hours and forty minutes to cross.”

This is a daily routine for Gonzalez, who lives in Tijuana but works in San Diego six days a week. Waits approaching three hours are the norm, meaning he spends upward of 18 hours a week just sitting in his truck, idling.
This is not only a waste of time, but as San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and Tijuana Mayor Bustamante argue, it’s a waste of potential revenue as well.

What type of revenue? A 2007 study estimates, “San Diego County loses $539 million in annual revenue from reduced freight activity. This translates into more than 2,900 jobs or $155 million in lost labor income a year in 2007. “


And the people who do put up with the hassles of crossing the border spend a lot of money:

(A cross-border consulting group) estimates that border crossers who do brave the lines spend $10 million to $15 million a day in San Diego and California, with the potential being much greater if long waits are shortened and some of those historic crossing trends can be revived.

Improving cross-border traffic is a key piece in the new San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s agenda. As a congressman he advocated for improving San Ysidro infrastructure. And now, as Mayor, he’s lobbying Washington and working his colleague south of the border. Voice Of San Diego:

(Filner is) planning trips to Washington D.C. and Mexico City to lobby for change. There, he’ll argue that trade and consumer spending could boom if crossing the border were less onerous, and that the binational region can’t reach its full potential without federal assistance.

“There’s never been a problem between the cities,” said Tijuana Mayor Carlos Bustamante. “It’s the politicians in Washington and Mexico City. They hear us but they don’t understand and they don’t listen.”