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What's the deal with the long vehicle lines to cross from California into Tijuana? The fix could take a while

Alexandra Mendoza, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in News & Features

He and Mexican officials have openly wondered if the delays are also related to a possible increase in the number of people working in San Diego County who have moved to Tijuana due to the high cost of housing in Southern California. He said it is crucial to find a solution, as the long lines impact the competitiveness and dynamics of the border region.

Some cross-border workers have changed their schedules to avoid the traffic on their way home.

Cueva, who works as a restaurant server, said he had waited up to three hours to cross from San Ysidro to Tijuana, so he worked with his employer to change his work hours to leave later at night.

He said that sometimes he has waited more time in line to cross into Mexico than early in the morning to cross into the United States with his SENTRI card.

Luken said the Smart Border Coalition, too, has taken the waits into account, including changing the time of some of their meetings in San Diego for the convenience of attendees making the trip from across the border.

He said he hoped all pending projects to streamline southbound traffic will be completed this year. “I think we can make the southbound crossing easier,” he said. “I’m not saying there won’t be any traffic, but hopefully we can get back to what we were used to.”


Drivers on social media have also pointed out another factor that could sometimes add to delays: southbound operations by U.S. Customs and Border Protection before entering Mexico.

A spokesperson said that the federal agency “regularly conducts pulse and surge operations for southbound vehicle inspections in support of our mission to secure the border.”

“Travelers may continue to see these operations at the (port of entry) to correspond with the ebb and flow of traffic,” the spokesperson added.

CBP has inspection booths prior to the Mexican port of entry entrance that are irregularly staffed. These sporadic operations regularly focus on the detection of large amounts of currency, drugs, weapons and other contraband, officials said.

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