Wait times early Monday morning to cross into San Diego from Tijuana at the San Ysidro Port of Entry were as long as several hours -- in fact, many people began to line up Sunday night after learning of significant delays over the weekend.
One Anaheim woman told NBC 7 that she had been waiting since 9 p.m. with her children: “I thought it was going to go fast around 2 a.m. and it didn’t. It was shocking.”
Another Southern California woman told us she had waited nine hours: “It’s tense, it’s hot, it’s frustrating.”
On Sunday around noon an 89-year-old woman became unresponsive and died as she waited in a car to cross the border into the U.S. with her family. They said they had been waiting in line for 6-7 hours. Police said it appears the elderly woman went into cardiac arrest.
One driver waiting in line told NBC 7’s sister station, Telemundo 20, “I feel for her and her family. It shouldn’t happen,” adding, “It’s too hot for anyone to be out here.”
The long wait times began at the border after Customs and Border Protection put a new policy in place on Aug. 21. They said it was to reduce nonessential travel because of the spread of COVID-19.
“In response to the health crisis and to protect communities by the border, CBP is taking measures to discourage nonessential border crossing to and from Mexico,” the agency said in a statement sent to NBC 7.
Customs and Border Protection said anyone not deemed essential must go through a secondary screening. According to CBP, a recent survey of 100,000 travelers found that more than 60% were not deemed essential.
The policy is also in place at other San Diego border crossings including Otay Mesa and Calexico West.