Barbed wire is unfurled during Operation Secure Line in Hidalgo, Texas, on Nov. 11, 2018. (Ozzy Trevino/CBP)

Wait Times Increase Indefinitely Along Southern Border as CBP Resources Allocated to Caravan Watch

U.S. Customs and Border Protection El Paso Field Office is advising members of the traveling public to plan for longer than normal wait times at area ports beginning today. A large number of specially trained CBP officers from the El Paso, Santa Teresa and Tornillo ports of entry are being deployed to CBP’s Arizona and California ports of entry to support the CBP response to the approaching caravan, which now appears to be heading in that direction.

“The deployment of our officers to support migrant processing and border security efforts in Arizona and California will have an impact on Customs and Border Protection’s trade and travel facilitation locally,” said El Paso Director of Field Operations Hector Mancha. “Cross-border travelers should expect lanes to be closed and anticipate processing times to increase. We suggest reducing or consolidating your cross-border trips, and if you must cross the border, build extra time into your schedule to accommodate these expected delays.”

The movement of resources will impact all shifts and reduce CBP’s ability to maintain the All Lanes Open Initiative between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. It is likely crossing times will increase.

Members of the traveling public can monitor Border Wait Times online or obtain the CBP BWT app on their smartphone via the Apple App Store or Google Play allowing them to check wait times and make an informed decision on where to cross. These wait times are updated hourly. Travelers can also observe current traffic conditions at the Paso Del Norte, Stanton and Ysleta bridges on the city of El Paso website.

On Tuesday, CBP began lane closures at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry.

At least three northbound vehicle lanes at San Ysidro and one lane at Otay Mesa will be closed to install and pre-position port hardening infrastructure equipment in preparation for the migrant caravan and the potential safety and security risk that it could cause.

“CBP has been and will continue to prepare for the potential arrival of thousands of people migrating in a caravan heading towards the border of the United States,” said Pete Flores, Director of Field Operations in San Diego. “These preparations include training exercises, deploying additional CBP personnel, and partnering with the U.S. military to harden our ports of entry and the border area between those legal crossings into the U.S.”

Department of Defense personnel are installing concertina wire, and pre-positioning jersey barriers, barricades, and fencing as requested by CBP under Operation Secure Line.

CBP will provide an update when the materials are removed and the lanes re-opened, however it is not anticipated to take place until sometime after people in the caravan arrive to the border.  CBP officials recommend that persons traveling northbound to the U.S. anticipate possible increased wait times because of the lane closures.

“CBP officials in charge at our local border crossings must always maintain security while we work to efficiently process legitimate trade and travel into the U.S.,” said Flores.  “The materials will be used to help strengthen border security, to ensure the safety of the American people, the traveling public, CBP personnel and the communities in which we serve.”

The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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