SAN DIEGO – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced new measures at the border with Mexico to discourage non-essential crossings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to CBP, a recent survey of 100,000 travelers found that more than 60% of border trips by US citizens and permanent residents were for reasons considered nonessential.
“In response to the health crisis and to protect border communities, CBP is taking steps to discourage unnecessary crossings of travelers to and from Mexico,” CBP said in a statement.
Although the crossings are already restricted to essential travel, if implemented the new measure would affect thousands of Americans and residents who cross the border daily.
To reduce the advancement and spread of COVID-19 in the United States, CBP said it is adjusting its operations at select ports of entry along the border with Mexico to reduce unnecessary travel. In the Baja California border area, it impacts the San Ysidro, Otay Mesa and Calexico checkpoints, CBP said.
The agency noted that at said ports of entry, it will have the discretion to refer secondary inspection to those whose travel is not essential and they will be provided with a copy of the health advisory for travelers issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC to raise awareness of current restrictions, and travelers to understand the risk of border crossings.
According to CBP, non-essential travelers, including US citizens and permanent residents, will experience increased wait times, as well as the possibility of being referred for secondary inspection to receive health notification from the CDC.
“Citizens and permanent residents have the legal right to enter the United States and will not be denied entry, however, it is recommended that they cross only for essential purposes, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notifications published in the Federal Register, ”the agency said.
CBP indicated that the measures are due to the fact that Mexico continues to experience increases in positive cases along the border with the United States.
However, on Thursday morning the lines are longer than 2 hours.
“It is our duty to implement measures to protect and educate Americans, even discouraging them from making unnecessary trips to Mexico,” the agency said.
The commercial flow of cargo to the United States is not subject to any restrictions, reiterated CBP. And the agency said that it maintains its conviction to facilitate the cross-border movement of food, fuel and medicine.
“We believe that these measures will discourage non-essential crossings and therefore reduce the spread of the virus,” the agency noted.
Most of the merchants in San Ysidro depend on Mexican tourism and can no longer endure restrictions due to the pandemic.
This Saturday afternoon, TELEMUNDO 20 saw long waiting lines at the border crossing from Tijuana to San Diego through the San Ysidro gate, where a large majority of booths were closed for the car crossing.
According to CBP, at 12 pm the San Ysidro gate had four open lanes for the general crossing, six open lanes for Ready, and five open lanes for Sentri.
Since last March 21, border crossings from Mexico to the United States were restricted to only crossings considered essential due to the coronavirus pandemic. And these nonessential crossover restrictions have been in effect for 30-day periods, which have been extended five times, and are currently in effect through September 21.
Cars and pedestrians continue to cross the border