SAN DIEGO – The crackdown by President Donald Trump’s administration on non-essential travel from Mexico amid the coronavirus pandemic has created huge bottlenecks at the border, with some motorists saying they have waited up to 10 hours to enter. U.S.
An American working for a company that supports businesses with operations in Mexico observed the long lines Sunday night from his home in Tijuana, Mexico. D said he got in line at midnight to be on time for his shift that started at 8 a.m. Monday in San Diego and was still 90 minutes late.
“I hope this is just an initial adjustment and that it will be a little more streamlined in the future,”Ross Baldwin, the man’s boss and president of TACNA Services Inc.
The partial ban that the Trump administration introduced in March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus does not prevent the entry of people with US nationality or who have legal residence. Going to work, school or medical appointments are considered essential trips, but shopping, eating or socializing are not.
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Andrea Casillas, who works at a Bed Bath & Beyond store in San Diego and lives in Tijuana because it is less expensive, waited four hours to enter the United States on Monday.
“There is a price to pay (for traveling from Mexico), but it should be reasonable, This is going too far.”Casillas
The measures came after Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said it reviewed about 100,000 travelers coming from Mexico by car or on foot and found that 63% of U.S. citizens or people with legal residency they traveled for matters that were not essential.
On Friday, CBP began reassigning staff at 14 larger border crossings in California, Arizona, and Texas to get people through faster on workday mornings when there are more essential travel times, causing huge queues on weekends.
On Tuesday, traffic was unusually light, with passersby wearing face masks and keeping a short distance from each other. Waiting time is expected to increase over the weekend or at weeknight, affecting people who go to the beach or restaurants. Waits increased at the border last weekend, with California crossings hit the hardest.
The measures do not apply at the border with Canada, which is also subject to the ban on nonessential travel. Air travel has not been affected.
The lines that wound through the streets of Tijuana this past weekend were the longest residents have seen, posing problems for motorists desperate to go to the bathroom.
Tijuana police said some people ran out of gas. An 87-year-old woman died Sunday of a heart attack in her vehicle while waiting to go through the nation’s busiest border crossing, in San Diego.
People who were caught in traffic aired their annoyance on social media, posting photos and videos taken from their cars. One of them, Yair Melendrez, said he waited five hours to cross to get to work on Monday.
“the slowest crossing with the motive of making all those people who go on vacation or make non-essential trips despair, the downside of all this is that it hurts us who are going to work a lot!”Yair Melendrez said in a text message
Anne Maricich, deputy director of CBP field operations in San Diego, said the wait in California reached a maximum of six hours according to the agency’s tally. Witnesses reported longer waits.
Taco vendor Christian Mendoza said a customer who answered Monday morning told him that he waited seven hours. CBP officials believe the weekday jam was a holdover from the weekend. The lines were so short Tuesday that Mendoza did not sell a single taco in three hours.
Before the pandemic, about 200,000 people entered the United States each day at California crossings with Mexico, according to CBP. The daily average fell to about 70,000 people after the ban was implemented in March, but has since risen to about 120,000.
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