SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — A crackdown on non-essential travel at one California border crossing appears to be working.
Throughout the weekend and into Monday, commuters heading north to the U.S. through the San Ysidro Port of Entry experienced waits of up to eight hours.
But since Tuesday, the long lines and wait times disappeared as northbound traffic lanes were relatively empty.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection had decided to fully-enforce present COVID-19 travel restrictions at the border, with the aim of scrutinizing people to make sure they were coming to the U.S. for essential reasons.
Since late March, only U.S. citizens and legal residents, as well as healthcare workers and food service personnel have been allowed to cross. But many who simply wanted to head north to shop, visit family or for tourist reasons, continued crossing the border.
As a way to crack down and discourage non-essential travel, CBP officers were ordered to take their time processing vehicles sending all non-essential travelers to secondary inspection for additional questions and education about coronavirus travel restrictions.
This generated the long wait times at both vehicle and pedestrian areas.
“Our focus continues to be essential travel, it was expected that once non-essential travelers removed themselves from the process, wait times will decrease,” said CBP’s Jaime Ruiz. “These are not new travel restrictions as some reported, it is just an operational adjustment, so we can focus on essential travel and slow the spread of COVID-19.”
Considering the wait times, many apparently decided to forgo heading north as a way to avoid the long waits.
“People are thinking twice before crossing the border unnecessarily and that is exactly the goal,” said Ruiz.