CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Wait times for lawful travelers across the international bridges linking the border cities of Juárez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas, are expected to increase as the holidays approach.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection in El Paso announced Tuesday that it is sending a large number of "specially trained" officers to Arizona and California from the West Texas and New Mexico regions to prepare for the arrival of the migrant caravan.
Members of the caravan have started to arrive in Tijuana; none are expected in Juárez. As a result of the shift in officers, travelers to El Paso can expect lengthier wait times on four international bridges in West Texas and New Mexico.
"Cross-border travelers should expect lanes to be closed and anticipate processing times to increase. We suggest reducing or consolidating your cross-border trips, and if you must cross the border, build extra time into your schedule to accommodate these expected delays," said Hector Mancha, El Paso's director of field operations for CBP.
About 38,000 vehicles a day and nearly 20,000 pedestrians cross between Juárez and El Paso.
CBP officers control the ports of entry into the United States, undertaking customs and immigration inspections for all travelers in vehicles and on foot, whether they have documents or not. Wait times are usually around 30 to 40 minutes, according to U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke and have increased this week, with El Paso-bound travelers noting in Facebook groups that cars backed up on roads in Juárez can take 30 minutes just to reach the entrance to the bridge.
With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, the international bridges traditionally become busier, with people visiting family and friends or shopping across the border.
El Paso and Juárez share an interdependent economy, with border wait times complicating the relationship. Jon Barela, chief executive officer of a non-profit organization dedicated to economic prosperity in the region told UPI last month that "in retail trade, 20 to 30 percent is done by Mexican nationals who come to eat, shop, or play."
CBP told travelers to consolidate their border crossing trips, and to check border wait times on their app or on a website maintained by the City of El Paso. CBP said the increased wait times would last "indefinitely."