Mexican workers who are ‘essential’ in California are sleeping in their cars and on sidewalks so that they can cross the U.S. border fast enough to make it to work on time
- Mexican residents who are essential employees in California are encountering long wait times to cross the border due to COVID-19 restrictions
- The Otay Mesa Port of Entry operated 24 hours a day but has reduced its service from 6am to 10pm
- The United States has limited inbound travel at its border with Canada and Mexico by temporarily banning non-essential travel since March 21
- Restrictions will remain in place until June 22. The ruling does not prevent U.S. citizens from returning home
Residents in Mexico have turned to camping out in their cars and on sidewalks in order to cross the border and arrive to work on time in Southern California.
Scores of workers crowd Otay Mesa Port of Entry hours before immigration officials permit access to entry to the U.S. since the Trump administration tightened the its border with Canada and Mexico due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
On a typical night, cross-border employees could be seen slumped in their beach chairs and covered in blankets to fight off the chilly temperatures so that they can either walk into the United States or drive straight over.
Commuters from Mexico who work in Southern California spend the night near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry to open to cross to the United States from Tijuana
Cross-border workers sleep in their vehicles as they wait in line for the Otay Mesa Port of Entry to open to allow essential workers to cross from Tijuana to California. Port of entries at the northern and southern United States border have cut their service times due to the coronavirus crisis as the Trump administration sought ways to control the outbreak
A man sleeps next to another male individual who rests on a beach chair as they both await for the U.S. immigration officials to open the Otay Mesa Port of Entry and allow workers to cross from Tijuana to California
A Tijuana resident, interviewed by the San Diego Union Tribune, works at a flower shop in Chula Vista, California, and has arrived as early as 10:30pm on some nights to cross the border once it opens at 6am because of the never-ending delays he had previously encountered at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
Julio Quintero, who was given a 30-minute grace period by his employer due to the traffic jams at the border, recalled setting his alarm and tucking himself in the back of his car with a blanket.
‘It’s very tiring, but what else can we do?’ he said.
Instead of sleeping on the Mexican side of the border, another Tijuana resident decided it was best to beat the early morning traffic and cross via San Ysidro.
‘I don’t see the point of staying a few feet away from the port of entry when you can cross at night and sleep at or near your work,’ David Ramos said.
The length of time for land travel via the northern and souther United States has been severely impacted since March 21 when temporarily limits were imposed on inbound land border crossings to essential travel
Commuters take a nap while waiting for the Otay Mesa Port of Entry to open to cross to the United States from Tijuana
Cross-border employees from Mexico have been spotted resting and sleeping near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry so that they can cut down their wait times to enter the United States from Tijuana
Gustavo de la Fuente, the executive director of the Smart Border Coalition, said ‘border wait times’ will surely worsen as business in the San Diego area resume operation as local governments slowly trim back on social distancing measures.
The length of time for land travel via the northern and southern United States has been severely impacted since March 21 when temporarily limits were imposed on inbound land border crossings to essential travel.
The souther and northern port of entries are open to citizens of the United States, individuals who are legal residents and who hold work visas and people who are seeking entrance for educational and medical purposes.
However, any person traveling for tourism and recreational purposes is not allowed entry.
The travel ban was extended to June 22 last Friday as the government continues its battle against the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.
‘We monitor and make operational adjustments daily, depending on the totality of the workload we have at each port,’ U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.
‘While the nonessential travel restrictions are in place, we are focused on maintaining wait times for workers crossing during the weekday morning peak hours similar to what they were before the restrictions came into effect,’ the agency said in a statement.
Drivers in Tijuana, Mexico camp out in their cars overnight as they seek early and quick entrance to the United States via the Otay Mesa Port of Entry
A resident from Tijuana, Mexico rests on a chair as he is forced to spend the night on a sidewalk just so he could enter the United States early via the Otay Mesa Port of Entry and get to work on time in Southern California