NOGALES, Sonora – Lane closures, resulting in lengthier wait times to cross into the United States, have returned indefinitely to the ports of entry along the Arizona-Mexico border as asylum-seeking migrants are increasingly attempting to cross through car lanes at the ports.
Wait times to cross at one port of entry along the border dividing Arizona and Mexico increased to as much as 11 hours over the weekend, according to some drivers, because the lane closures coincided with Thanksgiving, already a busy time at the border crossings.
Customs and Border Protection officials in Arizona said they reduced lanes at three ports over the past week: the DeConcini and Mariposa ports in Nogales and at the Raul Castro port in Douglas.
The agency reported several instances of frustrated migrants attempting to run through the car lanes rather than continuing to wait for months in Mexico until their numbers are called to be processed for their asylum screening.
“In recent days, there has been an increase of incursions through vehicle lanes at Arizona ports of entry by asylum seekers attempting to evade established entry processes. These tactics interfere with CBP officers conducting their responsibilities and exacerbates wait times for daily commuters,” Custom and Border Protection said Monday in a written statement.
Customs officers installed metal containers to block three lanes at the DeConcini crossing, as well as two lanes at Mariposa and three in Douglas. The containers initially went up for a few weeks around Thanksgiving last year, when soldiers began installing barbed wire to deter migrants arriving to Nogales from rushing the border.
The Mexican government, at the request of U.S. officials, also boosted their police presence on the Mexican side of the border crossings. On Monday, several municipal and federal police officers were standing guard along the vehicle lanes at DeConcini, as the lines stretched far past their typical lengths.
Police officers on-site said they’d been assigned to the port more than a week ago and that they would likely remain in place until further notice to discourage any further attempts to rush the border crossings.