Logistics Alert: The Gridlock Situation at the U.S.-Mexico Border

April 3 / US
Logistics Alert: The Gridlock Situation at the U.S.-Mexico Border

**The following is an update to the Logistics Alert blog originally posted on April 3, 2019.

As stated to the press yesterday, President Trump will not be closing the U.S-Mexico border. According to Time, “Trump told reporters Thursday he would try the ‘less drastic measure’ before resorting to his standing border-closure threat.”

However, border control resources are currently beyond capacity, and this situation will continue to develop. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), both passenger and cargo wait times are seeing significant daily increases across the entire border, and wait times will continue to increase in the coming weeks. This also may be exacerbated by the Easter holiday weekend, April 18-21, when a significant travel spike is expected.

All southwest cargo ports are being impacted, and although there is an option to direct to other ports, all will continue to see expected wait time increases, affecting outbound as well. Additionally, as of this morning, there have been the following adjustments to the schedule:

  • Mariposa: Closing on Sundays
  • El Paso: The Bridge of the Americas will be closing on Saturday
  • Ysleta: Will still be open for Saturday crossing

CBP will be opening lanes based on staffing, and is attempting to maintain fast lane functionality, but they have little control over the wait lines on the Mexican side. They are currently working hard to maintain the benefits of FAST and CTPAT to their partners.

Narcotics exams will still take place, but are taking longer because of the staffing shortages.

There are currently no delays for rail or seaports.

CBP will potentially hold bi-weekly calls with the trade to provide updates on this situation. There is an app available to check wait times in real time, but the CBP has advised that it is not currently functional. You can find a full transcript of the recent press conference held in El Paso by CBP here: https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/speeches-and-statements/el-paso-press-conference-transcript

**Original Logistics Alert blog posted on April 3, 2019.

According to recent reports, trucks crossing the border between Mexico and the United States are currently hitting delays of up to 12 hours. Reuters has reported that “the reshuffling of border agents, announced last week to process the record number of migrant families entering the United States from Mexico, prompted delays of up to 12 hours for trucks crossing from Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez to El Paso, Texas.”

As of this afternoon, 15 to 20% of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) staff normally assigned to cargo release functions have been re-assigned to support the Border Patrol (approximately 750 officers). This shortage of resources has caused the closure of lanes, which in turn has caused an ongoing, massive backlog of trucks. The current budget does not allow for overtime or new officers, meaning relief for this situation may not come anytime soon.

Earlier today, we attended a presentation from CBP to the Laredo US Broker’s Association on these ongoing border delays. CBP shared some of the key reasons for the delays and discussed some of the specific effects of the delays that shippers and carriers should know, including:

  • CBP is considering reducing hours from Monday to Friday or closing on Saturday and Sunday, but have not made a final decision.
  • If there are any changes made to hours of operation, CBP will officially make these announcements to the trade community.
  • CBP is aware of all the rumors that are currently circulating, and have advised shippers and carriers alike not to heed them, but instead wait for any official announcements.
  • Mexican SAT (Laredo) will close at 11:00 pm Monday through Friday, so that all trucks in the line are able to get across the border. CBP will remain open until 12:00 am.
  • The Nogales Port of Entry will also close on the weekends.
  • Rail operations and the fast lanes are not affected.
  • 6 of 15 lanes are operational at the World Trade Bridge in Laredo.
  • The Border Wait Times app/program is not currently functional, as CBP is operating in manual mode.

There is not currently a contingency plan in place – contingency plans exist for weather and other events, but there is not one for this situation. The CBP has advised that they will be sending an email communication soon with an update.

The most critical thing to note is that this will not be resolved quickly, and may go on for several weeks. Since the delays are most likely here to stay for some time, shippers should keep in touch with their contacts at Transplace for more information and updates.

What additional questions do you have about the current situation at the border?


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