Commercial shipments crossing the Mexican border with the United States will have now have a new layer of screening before they can enter the country thanks to the announcement of a planned customs inspections station in Tijuana that will for the first time ever permit U.S. agents to screen loads before they cross into the U.S.
Funded by the Mexican federal government, the facility will operate on the same compound as the busy Otay Mesa border crossing and will have U.S. and Mexican officials operating in the same facility. This idea of the building is to speed up the process for which certain goods – namely produce – cross the border.
The site supposedly has a laboratory, rooms for cold storage and state-of-the-art inspection equipment and U.S. officials would enter the compound from a secure road on the U.S. side of the border. The site will officially be opened once U.S. President Barack Obama and newly-inaugurated Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto give the joint go-ahead.
Officials from both the U.S.and Mexico did not comment on the status of the inspection center, claiming protocol dictates that a joint statement must be made, reported Sandra Dribble of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Many business leaders on the U.S. side of the border support the program, arguing that it will speed up traffic through the border and also cut down on pollution.
“Pre-clearance can greatly reduce both wait times for cargo crossing as well as help reduce air pollution and fuel consumption of trucks idling at the border,” said James Clark, director of the San Diego-Tijuana Smart Border Coalition, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The program will begin as a 180-day, voluntary program on northbound perishable goods that are especially time-sensitive such as fruits, vegetables and other produce approved under Customs and Border Protection’s National Agriculture Release Program.
The Otay Mesa compound is one of three facilities set to open along the U.S.-Mexico border. The other two are in Texas at Laredo International Airport and in Ciudad Juárez at the giant Foxconn maquiladora campus near Santa Teresa, New Mexico.
Neither of the three have dates set for opening.
The Otay Mesa border crossing is one of the busiest ports of entry in the country, with the crossing increasing vehicle lanes over the holiday season to keep up with the cross-border traffic flow.
“We worked to staff CBP officers during these two weekends in an effort to alleviate high levels of traffic during the holiday season,” said Director of Field Operations for San Diego and Imperial Counties, Pete Flores. “We are pleased that the cargo facility could be employed efficiently and securely to temporarily extend the number of available passenger vehicle lanes leading into the U.S.”