President Trump walked back his threat to close the southern border with Mexico, but CBP’s reallocation of officers to immigration duties continues to stymie cargo flows.
President Donald Trump backed away from his threat last week to close the entire southern border, giving Mexico a “one-year warning” to gain control over the continued wave of Central American migrants crossing the country to the U.S. border. While U.S. companies felt relieved, they will continue to experience supply chain pains along the southern border with the ongoing deployment of up to 750 Customs and Border Protection officers from the ports of entry to assist the Border Patrol with immigration duties.
Delays for trucked cargo crossing the southern border ports of entry has increased in recent days. CBP also has responded to the shortage of available officers at many smaller ports of entry along the southern border with truck lane reductions, as well as weekend day closures.
Wait times continue to rise at border crossings for cargo and people. As an example, Laredo World Trade Bridge cargo wait times yesterday were four hours vs one hour the year before. Trucks that do not cross due to the delays, sit overnight – further increasing the delays. CBP is posting wait times at the various border crossings online. Opening more/all lanes is not an option as resources are scarce and there is not enough manpower to operate them. It is anticipated that that the upcoming government holiday will further compound the delays.
CBP has stated they will be moving border agents from crossing points to non-crossing points to assist in the apprehension/enforcement. So far, 545 agents have been moved (300 from Laredo, 194 from El Paso, 51 from San Diego). If this goes beyond 30 days, then those officers will be replaced by CBP agents from airports. (airports have the largest number of employees). Which airport resources will be pulled from has not yet been decided. There is also an effort to locate other federal employees that might be able to support the border agents.
CBP has stated that there are no options on implementing a contingency plan given the nature of the situation. What options are there for shippers?
- Air Freight – While shippers have seen some delays at Mexican airports due to the repositioning of officers and the uptick in volume, freight is still moving faster than at the border. Click to enlarge.
- Ocean Freight – Since there are currently no delays at the seaports, ocean freight is an option, but with a slower transit time and increased shipping costs.
- Rail – There are currently no delays at the rails but finding space will be a problem. Currently most of the rail freight from Mexico to U.S. is utilized by automotive manufacturers.
- Utilize the FAST Lane – CBP has stated that FAST and C-TPAT customers will be prioritized on northbound freight. To utilize the FAST lane, the carrier and driver must be enrolled with the port of entry in advance. In this scenario, every link in the supply chain (Manufacturer, Carrier, Driver and Importer) must be C-TPAT certified. More information on FAST can be found here. CBP is also recommending that all parties ensure their C-TPAT account is up to date, including primary points of contact and ensuring that annual security procedure are submitted 90 days in advance.
- Prepare for Inevitable Delays – Local Customs Officials have stated that there are approximately 3,000 trucks not being processed daily. We anticipate that truckers will be charging for “Wait Times” or surcharges when applicable. In some extreme cases, we have seen trucks waiting for 2-3 days.
While southbound freight has not experienced the magnitude of delays that the northbound freight has, Mallory Alexander has space available at our warehouse locations in Laredo, Texas for any customers needing temporary storage. Mallory Alexander’s consulting arm, M-PACT Solutions, is also available to assist with any C-TPAT updates, procedures and general inquiries. Contact M-PACT Solutions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will continue to monitor the situation at the border and provide updates as it is made available. Please contact your local representative for more information.
Source: American Shipper