A group of San Ysidro businesses, political leaders and community groups sent a letter this week to US Customs and Border Protection over concerns that long border waits are affecting the region’s economy and livelihood
"A lot of people that cross everyday, they have to go to their jobs or meetings or doctor appointments," Fabiola Ramirez told NBC 7 on Wednesday.
Ramirez, who crosses the border often, said she has waited for as long as three or four hours to cross at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, a feat she's managed with a baby in tow and a doctor’s appointment to get to.
"I don’t think its fair for them to take their time," Ramirez said.
Several community and business leaders from San Ysidro and beyond penned a letter to CBP citing 10 suggestions on making the border better for all, with the goal of reducing border wait times.
"Ten ways that don’t need millions of dollars, don’t necessitate hundreds of officers," said Jason Wells the executive director of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce.
The letter cites how CBP can use current enhanced technology — like installing document readers in pedestrian lanes — to help speed up the lines.
"One of the big pieces is the evaluation of risk," Wells said. "What that means is that a pedestrian with no luggage has nothing to do with a semi-trailer with big wheels, so we shouldn’t have wait lines in pedestrian lanes."
The letter also calls on improving things like officers' “customer service” and establishing a more efficient procedure for vehicles sent to secondary inspection.
"They're putting their effort, their time, and their tears and sweat because they love this place," said Diego Alaniz about his parents restaurant, El Rincon, which is on San Ysidro Boulevard.
Alaniz shared how the restaurant is slowly recovering from the pandemic, the worker shortage crisis, the border closure and, now, the issue of long wait times.
"I miss everyone that hasn’t been able to come, and I hope the line gets a lot better than it is now so we can see each other again," Alaniz said.
The letter to CBP also calls for the use of double-stacked booths and the reopening of the PedWest crossing, which remains mostly closed to the public and only recently began processing exempted asylum cases.
"We’re talking about hundreds of employees that can't get to their jobs on time or at all, talking about grandparents trying to see their grandchildren or have medical appointments they can't get to," Wells said. " We're also talking about students trying to get to school."
CBP in the past has told NBC 7 that a staffing shortage was the reason why they had not added more lanes or reopened PedWest to the public, but it's unclear as to when that issue may be resolved.