SAN DIEGO – US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has stepped up security operations at the crossing between San Ysidro, California and Tijuana, Mexico, transited by some 50,000 vehicles every day, in order to crack down harder on criminal organizations operating on the border.
While this is not a new measure, having first been implemented by the previous administration, the provision of more resources is allowing more vehicles to be inspected before they cross over into Mexico.
Though the inspections and consequent long lines of cars are routine at this border crossing, considered the most heavily traveled in the world, complaints by local communities are increasingly heard.
Trade organizations have questioned the installation of these surveillance posts because, they say, the vehicles will have to undergo more random inspections a few meters (yards) ahead by Mexican customs.
Robert Hood, director of the border post at San Ysidro, California, replies that CBP agents are constantly monitoring the traffic to avoid causing long delays and besides, they are on the job only several hours a day.
“Our goal is to be as efficient as possible when making our inspections” of southbound cars, the CBP official told EFE, adding that he understands that what’s best for the economy on the border is to keep traffic moving.
“We’re not trying to interrupt the flow of legitimate travelers who enter and leave the country, but we do have the responsibility of providing national security,” he said.
In the last fiscal year, agents seized close to $1.3 million and four firearms that were headed for Mexico from California.
The frequency and hours on duty of these posts installed on the California side, a few meters from Mexican customs, changes every day, since the idea is to be unpredictable,
The federal agency believes this strategy strongly curtails multinational criminal groups that send drugs to the United States and arms plus cash back to Mexico.
So far in this fiscal year, almost $500,000 in cash and one firearm have been confiscated, according to data provided by the CBP.
Laura Acosta crosses the border three or four times a week to San Diego, a city she considers “an extension of Tijuana” and where she goes shopping or takes her nephews to school.
For the past few months she has noticed the CBP operations.
“Now they question me so I can enter and they question me so I can leave, which seems like a lot of questioning to be able to do things that used to be routine,” the Tijuana resident said, and recalled having waited in line for up to 60 minutes.
Though she claimed to understand the US agency’s job, she was sorry that once again, “one does the harm and another bears the blame.”