Truck drivers attempting to deliver goods from Mexico into the United States have been reporting nightmarish gridlock at the border crossing because of staffing problems.
Truck drivers say that they have faced wait times of up to 12 hours at the border crossing this week, according to reporting from Reuters.
Truck driver Jorge Lara told Fox 5, “Unfortunately we’re the ones who are going to pay the price” after he waited more than 5 hours to bring a load of cucumbers across the border.
The serious delays are being blamed on staffing problems after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reassigned 750 border crossing workers to help with an influx of asylum seekers at the U.S./Mexico border prompted by President Trump’s recent threat to shut down the border completely. The threat of a totally closed border has sent numerous asylum seekers from Central America pouring into the border crossings.
The lack of staffing has caused major delays at numerous border crossings. At the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, two of the ten northbound commercial vehicle lanes are closed down, causing major delays.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol released a statement on the commercial vehicle lane shutdown:
“The indefinite reduction of processing lanes at the Otay Mesa commercial facility is due to this deployment (of agents). As such, we will be unable to extend the hours of operation impacting our ability to provide services after our regular closing time.”
The sudden short staffing has also prompted Border Patrol to cut out all Sunday commercial vehicles inspections at the Nogales border crossing after March 31. And authorities at the Nuevo Laredo-Laredo border crossing are asking drivers to reschedule their shipments because the lack of staffing will force them to close at 11 p.m. each night.
Experts predict that that these border delays could cause produce prices to spike dramatically and that food shortages are possible.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) warns that a total border closure would cost trucking $18 million per day.