SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The Otay Mesa Port of Entry has been going through a $134 million renovation project, work that began more than two years ago.
The commercial facility, where the trucks enter the United States, was expanded in April of last year.
This week, additional pedestrian inspection booths with the latest in face-recognition technology, were completed.
Instead of six, it now has 12 pedestrian lanes.
According to a news release issued by the General Services Administration, which is paying for the work, the increase in pedestrian inspection capacity “will not only support the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) security mission but will also allow them to operate more inspection booths, facilitate pedestrian processing, and help ease historically long border crossing wait times.”
Members of the media have not been allowed to see the new facility.
But Border Report did speak with border commuters after they exited the building Tuesday morning.
They said they hope the added processing capacity will expedite their crossings, but on this day, they reported that only four of the booths were in operation.
They also stated their waits were about an hour.
Border Report could not confirm this with CBP, but its own website showed wait times of close to 50 minutes.
An independent website called Web Times Now, which monitors wait times at ports of entry and other facilities across the country, showed waits of 60 minutes for most of the morning at Otay Mesa.
“It’s not the booths that matter, it’s having more officers inspecting,” said Anthony, who told Border Report he crosses the border almost every day to get to work at a FedEx facility in Otay Mesa. “They could have stayed with the six booths as long as they had the personnel to do the processing.”
Art, another border commuter, also expressed concern over the number of CBP officers working the pedestrian side of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.
“Sometimes they have two officers working with the line all the way back for more than a mile,” he said. “Why spend all this money on the new booths when they should have more customs guys on patrol.”
Border Report reached out to CBP about these concerns, but it did not respond.
In the news release sent out by GSA, Otay Mesa Port of Entry Director Rosa Hernandez is quoted, saying their “aim is to facilitate lawful trade and travel and improve the daily life of thousands from the region who cross every day.”