California’s Otay Mesa Port of Entry returns to normal 24/7 schedule

Border Report Tour

A man sleeps in his car waiting to cross at Otay Mesa Port of Entry on May 18, 2020 in Tijuana, Mexico. Operation at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry has been reduced almost 44% in vehicular crossings and 77% in pedestrian after US and Mexico Governments came to an agreement to reduce crossings only to those strictly essential due to COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Francisco Vega/Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are announcing that the Otay Mesa port of entry in San Diego County will begin operating 24 hours a day beginning at 6 a.m. June 20. 

The change applies only to the passenger portion of the border crossing — there are no changes to the cargo or commercial facility operating hours.

“Previously, CBP scaled staffing as traffic volumes decreased drastically at the Otay Mesa Border Crossing because of COVID-19 and the travel restrictions,” said Pete Flores, CBP director of Field Operations for San Diego.

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“We continue to monitor traffic volumes and are now proactively increasing the hours of operation at Otay Mesa even though the travel restrictions remain,” he said.

On May 3, CBP officials began operating the Otay Mesa port of entry from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. At that time, CBP officials had experienced sustained decreases in the volume of northbound traffic arriving at the Otay Mesa passenger port of entry.

CBP officials said they had seen a 44 percent decrease in vehicle traffic and a 68 percent decrease on the pedestrian side.

But for the past six weeks or so, traffic has returned to near normal levels and congestion at the port of entry, especially in the mornings, had returned.

Commuters sleep on their cars waiting for the Otay Mesa Port of Entry to open to cross to the United States from Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on early May 20, 2020. – Diminished hours of operation at the port of entry due to restrictions amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, has forced commuters crossing the border to take measures to attend their essential works and business on time in the US. The US government on Tuesday extended for another month restrictions on non-essential travel across the borders with Canada and Mexico to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Photo by Guillermo Arias / AFP) (Photo by GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images)

Some people have been sleeping in their cars, lining up in the wee hours of the morning so they could be among the first to cross when the gates opened at 6 a.m. Others were doing the same on the pedestrian side of the port of entry.

Many workers camping out nightly at California port of entry

CBP officials remind travelers that temporary restrictions still limit entry at the U.S. northern and southern land borders people must be engaged in essential travel, including lawful trade, emergency response and public health needs.

Essential travel includes, but is not limited to:

  • U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States;
  • Individuals traveling to receive medical treatment;
  • Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions;
  • Individuals traveling to work in the United States;
  • Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes;
  • Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (truck drivers);
  • Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel;
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces, returning to the United States; and
  • Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations.

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