The news of a potential shutdown of the US-Mexico border has been spreading throughout companies. While various news accounts have now indicated that President Trump has announced that he does not intend to close the US-Mexico border, the administration will take further actions regarding the southern border.
This article compiles the latest information available.
While the border will not be shut down, there will likely be a slowdown in border processing and an increase in wait times at all land ports of entry on the Mexican border for an extended period. As a result, importers are advised to factor in that wait times at the border will markedly increase or even double. In addition, some weekend or extended hours may be cut back. Individual ports will announce measures specific to those ports.
The major changes that importers must consider are set out below:
- Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is transferring personnel from ports of entry to border enforcement in order to process the increase in asylum seekers. In particular, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen ordered CBP to quickly reassign up to 750 Office of Field Operations officers (who were working at various ports) to assist Border Patrol agents with the numbers of Central American migrants crossing the US-Mexico border. Nielsen is considering an expansion of as many as 2,000 officers, a move that could slow pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic at ports of entry.
- While it does not appear that southern border ports of entry will necessarily be shut down, border wait times will almost certainly be affected and services curtailed and cut back. For example, CBP's Tucson, Arizona field office reportedly announced that it would stop Sunday service for commercial truck processing at the Port of Nogales.
- Further, CBP recently announced that 545 CBP officers have been reassigned from the ports of Laredo, El Paso and San Diego and deployed for 30 days to assist Border Patrol. If CBP needs to deploy additional officers, it will pull them from airports as these contain the largest contingent of CBP officers.
- On 5 April 2019 Nielsen joined Trump in Calexico, California to visit the border wall and discuss the border response.
Notably, Trump has stated that he might put tariffs on products from Mexico, especially automobiles, if Mexico does not take steps to stop drug trafficking, and if that did not work would again consider closing the border. Importers must keep an eye on the situation at the southern border, as is it could be fluid over the next few months.
The changes are already affecting port operations; delays can be tracked here.
This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. Register for a free subscription.