Shelli DeRobertis 9:19 p.m., May 22
An effort at San Diego’s Mexican border to stem the flow of weapons and contraband into Mexico could backfire and is already drawing criticism, the Latin American Herald Tribune reports.
“We also have a responsibility to step up surveillance on people leaving the country in order to shrink the flow of weapons and illicit money used in Mexico’s drug wars,” says U.S. Customs and Border Patrol supervisor Chris Maston, speaking on a proposal to set up U.S.-manned checkpoints for vehicles traveling into Mexico through the San Ysidro port of entry as well as those coming back into the country.
Critics of the plan fear that such a move could create traffic jams that take hours to navigate north of the border, where crossers would first be subject to inspection by U.S. authorities and then by their Mexican counterparts. Such a scenario has long existed for northbound traffic, though a $577 million improvement project underway has a goal of cutting northbound wait times to 30 minutes or less by increasing the total number of inspection lanes to 34 and staffing each lane with two agents instead of one.
Architect and border expert David Flores says that pollution due to the traffic delays in the northbound lanes has been shown to have a significant effect on childhood asthma for communities surrounding the crossing south of the border, and he expects a similar result if southbound crossings are similarly impacted. The expansion project, due to be completed in 2016, is expected to lessen this impact in Mexico.
The Mexican side of the new crossing, however, is expected to be completed much sooner, creating further complications for traffic in the interim, as the Reader reported last March. Construction of the Mexican facilities was proceeding rapidly when we last visited the issue in June.