Saturday was the first of many where the cargo lane at the Bridge of the Americas Port of Entry was closed.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Bridge of the Americas cargo lane will be closed every Saturday because border officers will be shifted to other areas to assist with migrants coming into the country.
Commercial truck drivers delivering goods from Mexico have already faced up to 12 hours of gridlock at international crossings throughout the week.
KTSM visited three ports of entry in El Paso to discover how those were being affected. One El Pasoan, Flavio Lozoya, was waiting at the Paso Del Norte bridge waiting for a relative to cross from Mexico. He said he’s seen the cargo trucks at a standstill.
“In the cargo lanes I’ve seen miles of a line on the Zaragoza bridge, I’ve seen drivers who stay there to sleep for the night to see if maybe they can try and get across in the morning,” Lozoya said.
Jose Martin Gardea, a commercial truck driver from Mexico, spoke with KTSM as he got off a long shift near the Ysleta Port of Entry on Zaragoza in far East El Paso.
“All week we’re camping out on the bridge, its very inhumane,” Gardea said.
Gardea says the situation has shifted from gridlock to a deadlock.
“There’s times where we wait all night, ten hours, eight hours to cross, it depends. Sometimes we wait there the entire day until the next day,” Gardea said.
The long wait times mean delays in schedule for the drivers, which come with consequences.
“We don’t get any earnings, we don’t get any earnings because we’re stuck waiting, we lose and lose daily,” Gardea said.
He also said the long wait times are leading to long-term problems with suppliers.
“The hardest thing is that we get on bad terms with the clients, that’s what affects us the most, it puts us in a bad place with the client and it’s not our fault but they need their merchandise,” Gardea said.
The scheduled weekly closure is driving truckers into a panic as this is just the first Saturday of more to come.
“Hopefully they fix something, make a schedule or something because we are waiting all night on the bridge sometimes, maybe if they open the lanes at night or something like that, it would be beneficial,” Gardea said.