Companies have been on high alert since hearing about a potential shutdown of the US-Mexico border (for further details please see "Border update: importers should expect slowdowns and delays"). This article provides the most up-to-date information on the situation on the border.

Although President Trump does not appear to be actively taking steps to close the border, the administration has taken actions to address the migrant situation on the southern border that is disrupting global supply chains.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has already reassigned 545 officers from ports to assist Border Patrol and reallocated remaining officers to maximise the effects of its efforts. This has resulted in a significant increase in wait times at ports of entry, which CBP expects to continue. Moreover, it is not just inbound processing that is seeing a dramatic increase in wait times, as both outbound and inbound processing are affected by the reallocation of officers from ports of entry.

Severe congestion at the El Paso, Texas port of entry is pushing some traffic to other ports and creating additional delays. The ports of both Nogales, Arizona and Laredo, Texas are seeing traffic that was diverted from El Paso. Transportation rates are also growing due to limited truckload availability and increased driver wait times. While trusted traders continue to receive expedited processing, they are reporting problems getting to the trusted trader lanes because of the increased volume at ports.

CBP recently reported that on 14 April 2019, 100 more officers were pulled from the northern border, airports and seaports to be sent to the southern border. The agency warned that if the situation continues, 75 more officers will be pulled on 12 May 2019. Currently, CBP says there is little impact on the northern border, airports and seaports as a result of the reallocation; however, this could change if the number of officers being redeployed increases.

To avoid delays, importers should be sure to have accurate documentation. Further, while it may be helpful to adjust shipping patterns to different ports or off-peak hours, certain ports will be changing their weekend or extended hours as resources are reallocated, so be sure to check with local port directors for any developments. For example, Mexican authorities and bridge operators have limited the border crossing at Pharr, Texas to a commercial truck-only crossing. CBP hopes that restricting the approach for a limited time will relieve congestion by having more capacity at the Pharr bridge for commercial cargo.

The 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.