Border Update: Importers Should Expect Slowdowns and Delays

Aerial view of water and dock covered in shipping containers
Companies have been hearing about a potential shut down of the US-Mexican border and we have compiled the latest information available. While various news accounts indicate that President Trump announced yesterday that he now does not intend to close the border, there will still be further actions taken by the Administration on the southern border.

While the border will not shut down, as of today, there will likely be a slowdown in border processing and an increase in wait times at all land ports of entry on the Mexican border for an extended period of time. As a result, importers are advised to factor in wait times at the border to markedly increase or even double. Additionally, there is the potential for some weekend or extended hours to be cut back. Individual ports will announce measures specific to those ports.

  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is transferring personnel from Ports of Entry (POEs) to border enforcement and processing the increase in asylum seekers.
    • DHS Secretary Nielsen ordered CBP to quickly reassign up to 750 Office of Field Operations officers (who work at the Ports) to assist Border Patrol agents with the numbers of Central American migrants crossing the US-Mexico border. She is considering an expansion of as many as 2,000 officers, a move that could slow pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic at ports of entry. 
    • That is a significant number of port personnel.
  • While it does not appear that southern border POEs will necessarily be shut down, border wait times will almost certainly be impacted and services curtailed/cut back.
    • For example, there are reports that CBP’s Tucson, Arizona, field office announced that it would stop Sunday service for commercial truck processing at the Port of Nogales.
    • CBP has announced that as of today, 545 CBP officers have been re-assigned from the ports of Laredo, El Paso, and San Diego and deployed for 30 days to assist Border Patrol.
    • If CBP needs to deploy additional officers beyond the current 545, CBP will pull officers from airports as they contain the largest contingent of CBP officers.
  • On Friday, April 5, Nielsen will join President Trump in Calexico, California to visit the border wall to discuss the border response.

It is also important to note that President Trump has reportedly stated that he may give Mexico a “one-year warning” on stopping illegal immigration, after which he would close the border. President Trump also stated that he might put tariffs on products from Mexico, especially automobiles, if Mexico does not take steps to stop drug trafficking, and if that did not work would again consider closing the border. So stay tuned as the situation on the southern border could be a very fluid one over the next few months.

The changes already are affecting port operations; delays can be tracked here.


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