Truck wait times rise to 5 hours as CBP reassigns staff on US-Mexico border

Dive Brief:

  • The reassignment of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials from ports of entry between the U.S. and Mexico is altering logistics in border cities. Prior to reassignment, trucks waited an average of one hour to cross the border. Now, the average wait time is five hours.
  • CBP will close the Bridge of the Americas — one of four ports of entry in the El Paso-Juárez metropolitan region — to commercial traffic on Saturdays until further notice, the El Paso Times reported.
  • Manufacturing plants in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, are storing finished product in trailers as they wait for the cargo capacity to transport goods to the U.S., according to Norte Digital. One auto parts producer reportedly had to stop production altogether after supplies were delayed.

Dive Insight:

The border slowdown began on March 28, a day after CBP hosted a press conference in El Paso, Texas, “to discuss the impact of the dramatic increase in illegal crossings that continue to occur along the Southwest border.” With hundreds of migrants being apprehended and placed into custody each day, the federal agency said it needed to reassign its labor to deal with the situation.

“Up to 750 CBP Officers (CBPO) from ports of entry along the Southwest border will soon be supporting Border Patrol with care and custody of migrants,” a CBP statement reads. “This shifting of resources and personnel will have a detrimental impact at all Southwest border ports of entry. CBP will have to close lanes, resulting in increased wait times for commercial shipments and travelers.”

The effects were noticed in the border region almost immediately. As wait times jumped for daily travelers, El Paso residents with business in Ciudad Juarez opted to stay on the Mexican side of the border to avoid delays, and businesses in El Paso were more empty, local residents told Supply Chain Dive.

Businessmen fear the worst of the traffic is yet to come as further port closures loom. The automotive industry has the most to lose from the slowdown, as its just-in-time model means penalties for delayed parts could cost suppliers up to $7,000, El Diario de Juárez reports.

The news comes ahead of another announcement surrounding border closures that could be made by President Donald Trump. Friday, the President will visit Calexico, California, to see a recently-finished border fence replacement project and will host a roundtable with local law enforcement officials.

Local leaders fear the President will use the visit to justify further steps to shift border security resources, the Palm Springs Desert Sun reports.

“The purpose of the trip seems to be to shed light on what the White House is calling a ‘border crisis,'” Eduardo Garcia, a California assemblyman, told the Desert Sun. “But if you drive down and look at the Calexico Port of Entry, the crisis there is very different than the crisis the president is drawing attention to. It’s three- to four-hour wait times at the border, which have a significant impact on the economy, both in the border region and our state.”

04 April 2019 | Edwin Lopez | Supply Chain Dive