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THE LONG HAUL

Traffic at border checkpoints is piling up as the Trump administration reassigns officers

By Johnny Simon

The Trump administration’s decision to shift hundreds of customs agents to processing asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border is creating huge traffic jams at US ports of entry.

Long lines aren’t uncommon at these major border crossings that process vast quantities of produce, car parts, and other US-bound goods. But the cuts in personnel have turned the typical congestion into snaking bottlenecks that stretch for miles.

The Houston Chronicle reported yesterday that the typically half-hour trip to cross the World Trade Bridge from Nuevo Laredo in Tamaulipas, Mexico to Laredo, Texas was now a three-hour journey. As of 1 PM CST today, the wait time for commercial trucks there was 240 minutes, according to Customs and Border Protection.

 

Custom and Border Protection
A 240 minute wait.

Meanwhile, the two-hour drive from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico to El Paso, Texas has nearly quadrupled, the Wall Street Journal (paywall) noted. Drivers who could typically make several runs across the border and back in a single day were cutting back to just one round trip.

Photos from the past few days show the growing traffic at several US ports of entry. The Department of Homeland Security has already ordered 750 customs officers away from ports to handle the influx of Central American migrants, many of them families with small children. The Trump administration has deemed the arrivals a crisis and is planning to reassign more than 2,000 officers in total to assist with the large groups arriving at the border. If that happens, the pileups may only get worse.

Reuters/Daniel Becerril
A view of the traffic leading to the World Trade Bridge connecting Nuevo Laredo, Mexico to Laredo, Texas. The typically half-hour wait has ballooned to almost three hours.
Reuters/Daniel Becerril
Trucks wait in a long queue to cross into US at the Nuevo Laredo bridge.
Reuters/Carlos Jasso
Traffic at the opposite side of the border is just as bad. A driver sits in his truck in Tijuana, Mexico as he waits to cross into the San Diego area, in California.
GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images
An aerial view of cargo trucks lining up in Tijuana to cross into California
Reuters/Jorge Duenes
The crowded queue for border customs control at the Otay Mesa port of entry.
Reuters/Carlos Jasso
A man stands between California-bound trucks at a standstill.
Reuters/Carlos Jasso
Trucks wait in a long queue at border customs control to enter the San Diego area.
Reuters/Jose Luis Gonzalez
Drivers and commuters wait in line to cross into El Paso, Texas on April 3.