SAN YSIDRO, Calif. -- Monday, FOX 5 got a first hand look at how approximately 1,500 Marines assigned to various ports of entry in California have been working to strengthen the border.
Marines spent the last three weeks focusing heavily on the San Ysidro Port of Entry, fortifying it with additional concrete barriers and extra razor wire wrapped around the border wall. It’s been the Marines’ sole focus during this mission to continue to secure the border to the best of their ability, so officers with Customs and Border Protection can focus on the influx of migrants making their way to the US-Mexico border.
Troops are now actively working on the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, reinforcing the upper edges of the fence line with three layers of razor wire and steel posts.
"If we need to do more, we’ll do more. If we need to do less, we’ll do less. But every day there’s an assessment done, and we’ll continue to work that piece until told otherwise," said Capt. Guster Cunningham III, Lead Public Affairs Officer for the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force 7.
The San Ysidro Port of Entry is the busiest land border crossing in the world, but the security preparations are slowing the northbound traffic. The 26 lanes typically available for vehicles to cross have been reduced to 16 for the foreseeable future. Complete closures of the border are also not out of the question, like what happened Monday morning, when all northbound lanes were shut down.
"We did have reports of groups massing together and potentially trying to run the port of entry through the vehicle lanes," said Port Director Sidney Aki.
However border authorities say all the work to heighten security has proven to be effective.
"With regards to our increased resources of officers in play as well as military maneuvering and placing K-rails, jersey barrels and concertina wires in place, they quickly went back to Mexico," said Aki.
While wait times at the San Ysidro border crossing will be longer by vehicle, border officials say the wait time at the pedestrian crossings are typically no longer than 15 minutes.