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San Ysidro Port of Entry prepares for Nov. 8 reopening for non-essential travel

Bridge view of the San Ysidro border as vehicles are in line to cross into San Diego, May 14, 2021.
Tania Thorne
Bridge view of the San Ysidro border as vehicles are in line to cross into San Diego, May 14, 2021.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the San Ysidro Port of Entry are gearing up for Nov. 8. That’s the day the U.S. is lifting border restrictions with Mexico and Canada for fully vaccinated foreigners.

Moises Castillo is the CBP officer in charge of the San Ysidro Port of Entry. He said only vaccines approved by the FDA will be accepted. Those without proper documentation risk being turned back.

Castillo said all non-citizens are required to carry vaccination proof with them, but not all will be asked to show proof. He said officers will ask for vaccination proof on a case by case basis.

Minors will not be required to be vaccinated, but they must cross with a parent or adult that is.

“We understand that some are digital and we will accept digital proof. If it is on paper we will also accept that,” Castillo said.

He said a photo of a vaccine card will also be accepted.

“We are expecting heavy travel for that day and the next few weeks so we are letting you know that there will be high wait times during those times,” Castillo said.

Castillo said staffing at the port of entry is almost back to pre-COVID levels but the pedestrian crossing, called ped-west, will remain closed.

“We found it more efficient to open ped-east fully," he said. "Ped-west will not be opening at this time, but we are still evaluating that.”

Pre-pandemic, there were two officers at each lane helping ease the traffic flow. But Castillo said each lane will continue to have one officer only, which presents the risk of long lines of traffic. He did not fully explain the reasons for fewer staff.

“It’s several factors but at this time we are not looking to put officers in every lane,” he said.

CBP agents said those traveling to the U.S. for nonessential reasons should avoid crossing during peak hours to alleviate wait times.

San Ysidro Port of Entry prepares for Nov 8. reopening for non-essential travel