*2019 Crossing Stats Available Visit: https://smartbordercoalition.com/blog/facts-and-figures
WAIT TIMES INTO THE U.S. San Ysidro - All Traffic: Vehicles: 1:20 Pedestrians: 1:00 Ready Lanes: Vehicles: 1:00 Pedestrians: no delay Sentri Lanes: Vehicles: 0:15
Otay Mesa - All Traffic: Vehicles: 1:20 Pedestrians: 0:50 Ready Lanes: Vehicles: 1:15 Pedestrians: N/A Sentri Lanes: Vehicles: 0:15 Cargo Standard: 0:25 Cargo FAST: 0:20
Tecate - All Traffic: Vehicles: 1:05 Pedestrians: 0:25 Ready Lanes: Vehicles: N/A Pedestrians: N/A Sentri Lanes: Vehicles: N/A
WAIT TIMES INTO MEXICO Tijuana - I-5: No Wait I-805: No Wait

COVID-19 Bulletin April 3, 2020

Category: SBC Bulletins
To All Coalition Stakeholders:

First, I want you to know how deeply I care about the welfare of each and every one of you and the success of your organizations in confronting the global pandemic. Please feel free to contact me at any time to discuss your experiences, difficulties, and hopes for the future.

You are aware that for many decades a host of issues and interests have converged on the U.S.-Mexico land ports of entry and the surrounding communities. In the last several weeks, with shocking abruptness, our region’s ports and communities have become specific and critically important parts of an unprecedented global crisis. Thanks to you, our board, and friends and allies in both countries over the years, the coalition has found itself equipped to quickly adapt to a constructive role in the region’s response.

The coalition is many things: a forum, a source of expert information, a network, an advocate. In March, I was busy reading news, giving interviews, publishing statements coauthored with board members, talking to people whose livelihoods depend on this border being operational, and more. With this newsletter, I want to exploit the special vantage point all this gives me to make available to you perspectives on developments in the “ecosystem” we are a part of.

So let’s begin.

COVID-19: Interdependence and U.S.-Mexico Cooperation Implications Of the Partial Closure of the Border

Board member Eduardo Acosta (R.L. Jones Customhouse Brokers) and I spoke as part of this binational Spanish-language webinar put on by the UCSD Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, among others. Eduardo and I, representing the coalition, described the potential business and economic effects of restricted border travel. He focused on the cargo and crosser experience, while I outlined for the 500-person audience—many from outside our region— our region’s scale, ports, and potential economic impacts. I’ve attached my presentation. You may watch the webinar on YouTube here:

Reports from North America’s Borders: Experts React to New COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

Under the title above, the Mexico Institute at the prestigious Wilson Center in Washington published three succinct pieces by our fellow Stakeholder Paola Avila (San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce), Jon Barela (El Paso’s Borderplex Alliance), and me. I stressed the need for better responses on several issues at our border. You may read the pieces here: https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/reports-north-americas-borders-experts-react-new-covid-19-travel-restrictions 

“On-The-Ground” Actions by Our Stakeholders

Right now you, like me, are dealing with a moving target. You are likely also making creative efforts to change things for the better. I would value hearing about the efforts you may have launched. What follows here are updates that have reached me from some of your fellow Stakeholders and their organizations on their responses to the crisis so far.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

CBP announced that it will temporarily suspend activity at the PedWest crossing this coming Sunday and will make other changes at the ports on April 5 in response to large traffic reductions. PedEast and Otay Mesa will be handling all pedestrian travel in the area. A comparison of weeks March 2 and March 23 reveals 73% fewer pedestrians, 55% fewer passenger vehicles, and 92% fewer air travelers. Numbers continue to drop in light of additional restrictions in Mexico and stricter regulations in the U.S.

U.S. Consulate General in Tijuana

The consulate general reached out to several dozen medical manufacturers in Baja California during the past week, including all the large U.S. medical companies. These companies are already in contact directly with the FEMA lead task force at the White House, and many of them have asked to keep the direct chain of communication with Washington for the sake of efficiency. There are area companies such as Medtronic, ICU Medical, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Vyaire Medical, and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare that are helping or will be doing so very soon.

INDEX (maquiladora trade association)

Tijuana INDEX head Luis Hernandez spoke about three Tijuana companies already helping with ventilators and another seven eager to do so, although Mexico’s COFEPRIS (FDA equivalent) has to give its go-ahead. INDEX is concerned that the current Mexican www.smartbordercoalition.com administration under President Lopez Obrador is providing little tax and financial help to large and small companies.

Tijuana Local Development Council (Consejo de Desarrollo de Tijuana)

The council is gearing up to facilitate the production of ventilators using Baja California ingenuity.

Professor Eric Frost at SDSU’s Homeland Security Graduate Program 

Professor Frost stated that our region’s medical manufacturing prowess should be featured as one of the great success stories during the pandemic. The statement “we are in this together” aptly applies.

Frank Carrillo, Chairman, SIMNSA Health Care 

Frank, a coalition board member, continues with PedEast and PedWest health check modules for northbound travelers. He welcomes the State of Baja California’s decision to go into emergency mode and add new restrictions to citizen movement for the sake of curtailing the virus spread. Though SIMNSA has seen a strong decrease in hospital visits, the group has just launched telemedicine appointments.

CANACAR (carrier association in Tijuana)

Amidst the decrease in demand in the United States, CANACAR tells us there is a 30-40% reduction in cargo volume going to the border, but there are businesses in telecommunications, food, and software development that are thriving


The supermarket chain is bringing food security to many families, though they have changed hours of operation and are practicing social distancing with their own employees.

Rail freight

Rail freight has seen a substantial fall in activity. Though gas exports to Mexico continue, cattle nutrition exports from Mexico to the U.S. are at a standstill, wood and sand exports have stalled, and overall there has been a 50% reduction in inventory coming in for the maquila industry.

Philanthropy, foundations, humanitarian organizations

Community Foundations and humanitarian organizations have started to mobilize resources to the entire Baja California peninsula. Just in Los Cabos, hotels are at 6% occupancy and 70% www.smartbordercoalition.com of restaurants have been closed, with anticipated cascading impacts to the integrated service economy. An estimated 50,000 families in Baja California Sur will need food support through despensas every two weeks for the foreseeable future. Casa del Migrante in Tijuana has closed its doors to additional people; other migrant shelters may follow. The International Community Foundation (www.icfdn.org) has established a Border Health Fund with a $50,000 matching grant to support basic needs, such as food, blankets, cleaning materials, masks and the like. Please see link if you’d like to donate: https://icfdn.org/covid19- mexico. Pro-Salud (http://pro-salud.org/portal/) is continuing its mobile clinic services at the migrant shelters for at least the next four months.

I thank you for your commitment to the binational relationship and look forward to keeping the communication going!