TIJUANA (Border Report) — What was supposed to be a banner morning for officials south of the border turned to chaos and frustration with commuters bashing a program meant to get them across the border faster.
Tijuana Mayor Montserrat Caballero and Mexico’s Consul General in San Diego, Carlos González Gutiérrez, were on hand to introduce a pilot program in which police, National Guard troops and Mexican customs agents were to make sure motorists had proper documentation to cross the border.
But things didn’t go as smoothly as they had hoped.
“The officers are drinking coffee and I don’t see them moving traffic to go faster,” said Luis Ortiz, who heard about the program on social media and was eager to try it out, saying that’s why he got in his car in the first place.
“I was in my car and the line was far away, so I went back home to get my motorcycle,” he said. “I’m going to cross the border faster so I won’t be late for my job.”
He and others were supposed to enjoy faster crossing times on the first day of the program’s roll-out, but it didn’t work out this way.
This is supposed to remove a layer of inspection for U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers at the crossing, and in theory, expedite border commutes.
And the additional police officers and National Guard troops added layers of security for border commuters.
But as the morning dragged on, the lines and frustration seemed to grow.
“I didn’t see any difference,” said Iliana, who was taking her son to school north of the border.
In fact, she felt the lines were longer.
Ortiz agreed: “I’m sure the mayor didn’t get in this line because if she had, she would’ve been late for her little news conference.”
According to Mexican officials on hand, the checkpoint’s goal is to remove the need for CBP officers at the actual international boundary just south of the border crossing.
Currently, those CBP officers are stationed between barriers and fencing that have been set up to prevent migrants from rushing or trying to crash through the border crossing on foot or in cars. But that also blocks many of the actual traffic lanes.
The plan is for CBP to move these officers to inspection booths at the port of entry while opening more lanes.
As of Tuesday morning, it was status quo for CBP officers.
González Gutiérrez said they have been negotiating with CBP for four months and stated the American agency is part of the plan and shares the program’s goals.
But when Border Report contacted CBP about the program, and the likelihood it will lead to more lanes being open at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, it was non-committal.
A spokesperson deferred all questions to Mexico’s government calling it “their program.”
The program is supposed to continue in the days ahead.
There was no mention of how long the trial run would last or if the program might be canceled.