SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Fewer unauthorized Russian migrants are attempting to cross the border thanks to a Mexican-run checkpoint, the mayor of Tijuana says.
Mexican authorities installed the checkpoint a month back to help ease wait times along the northbound traffic lanes at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
The filter, as Tijuana Mayor Montserrat Caballero and others south of the border call it, is watched by police officers, Mexican customs agents and National Guard troops.
Its goal is to identify undocumented migrants, particularly Russians, before they get to the U.S., where they can ask for asylum.
Throughout the day and night, personnel does visual inspections of people on foot and in cars looking for folks who have the “characteristics of a migrant,” according to Caballero.
Personnel can also ask to see credentials such as visas, resident cards and passports.
“This filter has limited and lowered the number of attempts to cross the border,” said Caballero. “Especially Russian nationals.”
She stated they have stopped, on average, eight people daily.
But Montserrat worries the number of attempts will continue if cartels are allowed to function as they have in the past.
“It’s not just on the Mexican side, but on the U.S. side where organized crime is controlling the smuggling operations, this is something authorities in the United States need to stop.”
Initially, the checkpoint was installed as a way to help U.S. agents who were doing similar visual checks before commuters could reach the inspection booths at the crossing.
In theory, if their Mexican counterparts took on this task, CBP officers would be free to operate more inspection booths, providing faster crossing times for border commuters.
“There used to be 24 inspection gates open, now there are 34 on a consistent basis,” said Fernando Sánchez, Tijuana’s Chief of Police. “And some of the barriers that had been put up by to limit crossings have also been removed.”
Border Report has not been able to confirm these claims and whether CBP officers have been reassigned and placed at inspection booths.
A CBP spokeswoman wrote: “The number of booths remain the same, but the ports are always assessing its staffing resources based upon peak travel times and open or close existing lane configurations to assist with the flow of traffic.”
The spokeswoman also wrote that it’s too early to tell whether the Mexican checkpoint is making a difference, especially when it comes to stopping Russian nationals from trying to push through the port of entry.
“Official numbers for the month of November aren’t out yet making it difficult to say if there has been a change,” she said.