Early-morning pedestrian traffic from Mexico into the U.S. at San Ysidro is taking longer due to the implementation of document requirements as demanded by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.
For several years, border agents have warned travelers of stricter impending document requirements, but the implementation was slow in coming — until two weeks ago. Since then, lines of pedestrians, most of whom are crossing the border to go to work, have been up to a quarter of a mile long at 4:30 a.m. during the workweek. Previously, if one arrived at the border before 5:00 a.m. the wait was minimal, averaging 15 to 20 minutes, frequently with short lines inside the building.
Now, documentation is subject to verification three times by U.S. border personnel: the first time upon passing through the entry “cage” (about 40 feet from the international border) and a second time upon entering the building, 250 feet further into U.S. territory. If one’s documentation is suitable, (passport, passport card, enhanced driver’s license, SENTRI card), one is allowed to proceed to the WHTI line, where documentation is checked again; the wait to cross at that point is about 15 minutes,.
If, however, one lacks the requisite documentation, one is sent to another line, where the wait can take another hour or two as more thorough background checks are made. The people that are sent to this secondary line are frequently surly, although most sit down on the floor, backs against the corridor wall, and wait.
For more information on documentation requirements to enter the U.S., click here.