SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Tijuana resident Teresa de Jesus, her mother and sister showed up bright and early at the San Ysidro Port of Entry — ready with extra water, food and blankets — expecting to be in line for several hours.
To their surprise, they breezed through the border as the anticipated longer-than-normal border lines did not materialize on the first day that essential travel restrictions were lifted for the fully vaccinated.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as well as other government agencies on both sides of the border, had predicted longer border waits as more people would be able to cross the border once again.
In fact, they were asking people to stay home unless it was absolutely necessary to cross the border.
“We’re going to Temecula to see my sister,” said De Jesus in Spanish.
Temecula is about an hour and 20 minutes north of the border.
“It’s been almost two years since I’ve seen her,” she said.
Others were also “stunned” at how quickly they were able to gain access to the U.S.
“We’re on our way to Los Angeles to see the sites,” said Ernesto Velasco in Spanish.
Velasco and his wife, who are from Mexico City, stated they were also expecting longer waits, but welcomed the ease of their crossing.
As they passed three CBP officers who kept guard at a gate people must go through on their way to the inspection areas, an officer did ask Velasco for proof of vaccination, which he provided.
For the time being, those who cross the border using their tourist visas for non-essential reasons such as shopping or for visiting, must provide evidence they are fully vaccinated if asked by an agent.
By mid-Monday morning, there was virtually no line on the pedestrian side of the border and cars seemed to be moving faster on the vehicular traffic lanes.
The big test is expected to happen over the weekend when most non-essential travelers cross the border.
CBP is asking people to not cross the border between 2 p.m. and midnight Sunday and on from 4-10 a.m. on weekdays.