Just got home from a grueling 4 hour wait in line at the Otay Mesa border crossing on Sunday, April 24th. We were coming in from a camping trip near Mexicali, chose to drive to Tecate and arrived at the entrance to the border crossing about 4:00 pm, but found that the border crossing was closed. No reason given and I can find no reason posted anywhere on the internet why the border crossing was closed. We drove over to Tijuana and got in line at the Otay Mesa border crossing at 5pm. We finally reached the customs booth at around 10pm.
Like my husband and I, there were hundreds and hundreds of people in line. There are no opportunities for the drivers to take a break, no public bathrooms, and no information on how long the wait will be. The whole system feels random and haphazard. It was difficult to know if we were even in the right lane. It was hot and horrible to be stuck breathing fumes for hours on end. Every bone in my body ached
I saw a woman driving a car with her head resting on the steering wheel, she looked like she was crying. There was an infant ‘s seat in the back. How did this mother care for the baby while trying to get over the border? How did she perform diaper changes, feeding, or comforting for those 4 to 5 hours? And while there is an expansion project planned for the San Ysidro border crossing, it might be facing delays due to lack of funds according to Alexandra Mendoza of the San Diego Red.
Meanwhile, it seems that it is bad organization and poor public communication as usual at the border crossing. Why do we think this is an acceptable way to run our border crossings? How much would it take to have a little more information available to people? Maybe a sign explaining the delay. Perhaps a few officials to answer questions or to tell us which lane we should be in? Or maybe the simple provision of port-a-potties and pull over stops for the travel weary? How much would it take to make sure Americans and visitors are informed about what is going on and what to expect? At least some visible security so we know that if something goes wrong in the frustrated crowd, someone will come to help us.
It certainly wouldn’t take much to help make the wait a little more endurable, if not faster. In my opinion, it is terribly inept to force people to endure such outrageously uncomfortable conditions while making no attempt to ease the situation. It’s more than public relations, it’s about trade between the two countries and it is about safety.
The situation I just experienced is the perfect recipe for someone to act out their rage at being stuck without power or recourse in a line that might last forever. I noticed it could have been worse for those of us lucky enough to be crossing in our cars. Looking across, I saw a very long line of people waiting to cross the border on foot. They all were standing because there was no way to sit. The line didn’t discernibly move while I watched. Who thinks this is okay? Surely the United States and Mexico can make this a less tortuous experience. I can’t help but think that the United States wants to make it as difficult as possible to visit Mexico and that is why they fail to bother solving some of the issues at the border crossings.