Border wait times spike as El Paso schools resume in-person classes

Border Report

CBP: Crossing border for education purposes is legitimate under non-essential land travel restrictions

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Border commuters have experienced higher-than-normal wait times at pedestrian ports of entry this week, coinciding with the in-person return to classes in El Paso.

Wait times nearly doubled on Monday morning, going from the customary 55-minute wait to 95 minutes, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Since then, traffic volume has decreased, but CBP managers are monitoring traffic flows and adjusting staff during peak periods.

This photo provided by Reporte De Puentes shows students who live in Juarez waiting in line to cross into El Paso at 6:15 a.m. on Aug. 5, 2021, at the Ysleta Port of Entry.

“CBP officers working at the ports of entry did note higher than normal traffic Monday morning in both the pedestrian and vehicle lanes. Monday morning is typically a busy period, however, with the beginning of face-to-face instruction at multiple area school districts volumes were higher,” CBP said in a statement.

Images shared on online platforms Thursday morning show dozens of young people and some adults packed shoulder in the pedestrian walkway of the Ysleta-Zaragoza International Bridge. The crowd appeared headed toward the U.S. inspection areas.

At the Paso del Norte International Bridge, KTSM witnessed young people with backpacks walking toward El Paso before sunrise.

“It’s good they’re going to be able to be with the teachers, who are the ones who really help them (learn),” said a parent who declined to give his name.

“They are happy to be able to go, even though they’re worried about what (people) are saying about the pandemic possibly coming back and the new strains,” said a mother who saw her children off from the Mexican side of the bridge.

The U.S., Mexico and Canada have been observing non-essential travel restrictions since March 2020. The restrictions remain in place at least through August 21.

CBP said crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to attend school is an exemption to the restrictions. Specifics including all exemptions to the travel ban can be found here.

Border Report reached out to various school districts regarding their policies on students from Mexico and is awaiting a response. School districts typically only require a verifiable address within the district for any student to enroll.

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