By Maria Sacchetti, David J. Lynch and Nick Miroff, The Washington Post
Wait times at the ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border have soared as the Trump administration diverts officers to handle an influx of immigrants, leaving trucks backed up for hours and industry leaders warning of possible produce shortages and supply-chain interruptions.
The clogged checkpoints are frustrating bankers, business leaders, local residents and even Mexico’s foreign minister, who called the reassignment of hundreds of border officers to other parts of the nearly 2,000-mile boundary a “very bad idea.” The shift in enforcement efforts is overwhelming legal checkpoints and impeding the free flow of goods and services, in some cases increasing wait times about fivefold.
Executives described the scene at the southern boundary as a slow-motion facsimile of the border closure that President Trump threatened two weeks ago before backing down amid protests that shutting down the border would hurt the economy. Trump said he would consider closing the border as a punitive measure if Mexico doesn’t take steps to reduce the flow of migrants to the United States within the next year.
Those now suffering the most because of backlogs at understaffed ports of entry are automakers, technology companies and farmers, who say that the slowdown is affecting the $1.7 billion-a-day in goods that crosses the border between the United States and Mexico. Delays at ports in Texas have at times exceeded 10 hours in recent days.
“This is a big, big cost and problem for companies, on top of everything else they’re dealing with,” said Rufus Yerxa, president of the National Foreign Trade Council. “It’s just more uncertainty and more pain.”
Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection