UTEP professor says long bridge time is hurting students’ education


A university professor fears his students’ education is suffering because of long wait times at our ports of entry, keeping students from getting to class on time.

It’s now week three since Customs and Border Protection announced 750 officers would be redirected from ports of entry to help care for migrants and many are desperate to know when it will go back to normal. 

Nohemi Sahagun and her sister both commute to El Paso from Juarez daily for work and school. Sahagun says the wait times cause them to alter their lives to make it to work and school on time.

“She needs to cross over around 8 when in reality her class is at 10:30 so she goes over two hours just to be on time,” Sahagun said.

UTEP Assistant Professor of Political Science, Todd Curry, is also frustrated with the current policies after students send him several emails a week saying they cannot make it to class on time because they are stuck on the bridges.

“I get a picture of a student waiting in line to actually get across and the photo was taken two hours before my class time,” Curry said. 

He says this is hurting their education after noticing from week to week his students aren’t making it to class on time.

“My main concern is our students are being denied an education,” Curry said. “I have a class of 300 students and one of the large components of their grade no doubt is attendance.” 

However, he says he now considers this policy in his curriculum as unfair due to the long wait times at El Paso and Juarez’s international bridges. 

“It made absolutely no sense for me going forward to continue to take it and use it as a graded medium because students couldn’t simply get across the border on time with eight hour wait times on some days,” Curry said.

He now modified his curriculum to allow students who miss class an opportunity to make up on lost lectures or exams.

“I’ve held extra office hours, I’ve been basically giving my lecture multiple times a week instead of just once because I want those students who couldn’t make it, to have the same opportunity that other students have had,” Curry said.

Now, he’s calling for a solution from the government. 

“The students are trying to do exactly what we ask of them and the policies in place are currently preventing them from doing that,” Curry said.

According to the professor, the university is doing all it can to help these students.

As KTSM previously reported, a few weeks ago UTEP sent out a letter informing students it would provide help if President Trump closed the border and left commuter students stranded on the U.S. side of the border. 

“Without something solid coming down, without the flux of policy that exists on the border, we can’t act as a whole outside of letting our voices be heard and letting someone in Washington know this is penalizing our students’ success,” Curry said.

For consistent and updated estimated bridge wait times, you can find that here. 

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