On Sunday, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the closing of the San Ysidro border crossing after Central American migrants, including toddlers, near the border wall were shot with tear gas. As a result of the the policing at the port of entry, the busy the San Ysidro border crossing was stalled. The pedestrian portion of the port of entry was re-opened around 3:45 p.m. local time, with vehicle sections opening shortly thereafter.
The San Ysidro Land Port of Entry, as it's officially called, is the "busiest land border crossing in the Western Hemisphere," according to the U.S. General Services Administration. The border crossing sees an average of 70,000 passengers in vehicles and 20,000 pedestrians (all traveling northbound) each day. To continue accommodating the high number of pedestrians, a new branch of the San Ysidro border crossing opened in August 2018, according to KPBS.
"San Ysidro is the largest, most complex port of entry in the Western Hemisphere," CBP San Diego field operations director Pete Flores to KPBS in August. "One out of every five travelers who enters the U.S., whether by land, air or sea, does so through a port of entry within the San Diego Field Office jurisdiction, and the majority enters through San Ysidro."
The border checkpoint connects Interstate 5 in America and Mexican Federal Highway 1, according to The Sacramento Bee.
In 2017, 16.5 million pedestrians passed through San Ysidro, the Department of Transportation recorded. Additionally, there were 47.6 million "personal vehicle passengers" in 27.6 million vehicles, along with 123,644 passengers on 66,734 buses.
Thus far in 2018, nearly 13.7 million pedestrians were processed at San Ysidro border crossing, according to records from the Department of Transportation. There have been 78,596 passengers on 47,382 buses in 2018, along with 38.3 million "personal vehicle passengers" in 22 million vehicles.
The U.S. General Services Administration reported that the San Diego Association of Governments estimates that vehicle traffic will increase by 87% by 2030 at the border crossing. As a result, The Sacramento Bee reported that an expansion is underway to increase the number of northbound lanes to 34 (up from 25) along with 62 inspection booths for cars. Southbound lands (into Mexico) will be “realigned” to accommodate the enlargement, and southbound lanes of I-5 will be increased from 5 lanes to 10 lanes.
Many of those millions of people crossing the San Ysidro border crossing aren’t people seeking asylum, according to The Outline. Rather, these people are commuters who live in Mexico, but work in California. In fact, this region is the most productive along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the digital publication. There are 6.8 million people who live on the San Diego-Tijuana border who together create an annual economic output of $220 billion. In comparison, the entire border, from east to west, has a population of 12 million.
The hemisphere’s busiest port has a long history, too. According to the San Diego History Center, the San Ysidro Port of Entry was established during the 1848 the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that formed the United States' southern border of nearly 2,000 miles. Initially, the crossings went through the Tijuana River.
As far as what's next for the migrant caravan, the Mexican interior minister said they will deport anyone who "violently" and "illegally" crossed into America, according to The Guardian. Despite the federal government's tough words, local governments are still looking to help as the Tijuana mayor is seeking aid from the United Nations for the humanitarian crisis, according to The Associated Press.