EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The head of a truckers’ association in Juarez says the closing of cargo inspection lanes at the Bridge of the Americas could cost border industry – which relies on just-in-time merchandise delivery – $10 million a day.
Trucking executive Manuel Sotelo said the temporary closing is already causing hours-long delays at El Paso’s other commercial crossing (the Ysleta-Zaragoza port of entry) and forcing some drivers to make a 30-mile detour from the lots of assembly plants in east Juarez to the Santa Teresa, New Mexico, border crossing.
According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website, the wait for trucks crossing the Ysleta port of entry was twice as long as normal on Friday morning. The wait for passenger vehicles was three times longer than normal at the Bridge of the Americas and the Paso del Norte Bridge. Motorists were waiting in line for up to three hours at passenger lanes, according to an independent traffic monitoring website.
Sotelo called on the governments of Mexico and the United States to solve the migrant crisis that once again is forcing CBP to take away officers from their cargo inspection duties at ports of entry so they can assist with the processing of thousands of migrants from South and Central America making asylum claims.
Thousands of asylum seekers have crossed the Rio Grande from Juarez, Mexico, into El Paso in the past few days, clogging up processing facilities and stretching thin the staff there.
“One of our principal concerns with this (migrant crisis) is that we would get to this point. This morning we see huge lines of vehicles. What does that mean? That they are taking away CBP officers to process migrants,” Solelo said. “This is not a local directive. The order to give priority to the migrants instead of commerce and the citizens is coming from Washington. Locally, customs officials on both sides of the border will really have to work to keep (the impact) to a minimum.”
CBP late Thursday confirmed the temporary closing of the cargo facility at the Bridge of the Americas due to the reassignment of personnel to help out at migrant processing centers. The closing will remain in effect until further notice.