SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The Mexican Consulate in San Diego is reporting that a 5-month-old pilot program at the San Ysidro Port of Entry has decreased incursions by migrants in vehicles onto U.S. soil by 60 percent.
Back in November, Mexican officers on the local, state and federal levels were deployed to the south side of the port of entry to screen passenger vehicles as they approached the border crossing.
According to the Mexican Consulate in San Diego, the plan was put in place to deter migrants, mostly Russians, from trying to get into the U.S. while being driven on what are called “SENTRI and Ready Lanes” used by pre-screened border commuters.
Before the program was put in place, the migrants, upon reaching U.S. territory, would ask for asylum, which required U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to process the immigrants on the spot, leading to the closure of traffic lanes, and, therefore, extending border crossing wait times for others.
The Smart Border Coalition and other groups have said long border waits hurt business opportunities and the quality of life on both sides of the border.
“We received a request for help from our friends at CBP,” said Carlos González Gutiérrez, Mexico’s Consul General in San Diego. “They were very concerned that many immigrants, mostly from Eastern Europe were abusing the frequent traveler lanes at San Ysidro.”
According to González Gutiérrez, it was decided that Mexican law enforcement would get involved to identify and stop “Eastern European” migrants before they got to U.S. territory and the inspection booths at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
“This was not a migratory filter, it was not an attempt to oppose their legitimate interest in requesting asylum to the United States, we were only encouraging those migrants to ask for asylum in a different way and not in a car abusing SENTRI and ready lanes.”
The consul general says the program has cut down on illegal driving attempts into the U.S. from about 10 daily to only four.
“We are very proud because on both sides of our border, we are doing our best to protect our shared infrastructure,” said González Gutiérrez.
He also stated the initial success of the program has allowed CBP officers to concentrate their efforts on the inspection areas and not on stopping vehicles with migrants before they get to U.S. territory.
“Now they are consistently opening 31 lanes out of 34 making it faster to cross the border for everybody.”
Border Report has tried to verify these claims with CBP, but a CBP spokesperson wrote: “Regarding the Border Traffic Pilot program in Tijuana, we will defer any questions to the Government of Mexico.”