San Ysidro Border – Changes are coming to the border and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is announcing the appointment of a new Port Director at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, Mariza Marin – the very first woman to be in charge of one of the busiest border crossings on the planet.
Port Director Mariza Marin was born and raised in San Diego, growing up as a young girl in Barrio Logan before her family moved to the South Bay area.
Having spent so many years living near the border and then actively working to help manage border crossing between her hometown of San Diego and Tijuana, she hopes to rely on that experience along with her intimate knowledge of the port and its challenges to make some positive changes in her new role.
She began her career with CBP in December 2008 at the LA/Long Beach seaport, transferring to the Otay Mesa port of entry in 2010 to be closer to her family. She moved up through the ranks and has held positions dealing with illegal drug enforcement including finding ways to improve detection of the ever-increasing quantities of fentanyl being snuck through the port of entry.
Priorities and Balance
Her work experience at the port of entry also included investigating ways to reduce wait times for northbound traffic as well as helping to plan for an increase in asylum processing in anticipation of the end of a pandemic policy that had been turning back many migrants before they reach U.S. soil.
She will be keeping all of these issue as top priorities as she officially moves into her new role, hoping to do all of that while bringing a better work-life balance to her employees.
The key to drug detection and wait times, she said, will be to leverage technology to improve efficiency and the CBP is looking into various ways to increase “nonintrusive inspection technology” in the zone between the international border line and the inspection booth in the vehicle lanes.
That could include additional scanners as well as new facial recognition cameras as are currently used on pedestrians heading north to San Diego to quickly confirm their identity.
“I can’t staff my way out of some of our shortcomings,” she said.
PedWest Pedestrian Border Crossing
Marin shared that she is also quite aware of the many calls to reopen PedWest, one of two pedestrian routes through the port of entry and designed to facilitate travel to and from the Las Americas outlet mall and other nearby areas in Tijuana that are popular and easily accessible for tourists from both sides of the border.
CBP closed PedWest in early 2020 at the outset of the pandemic and has relied on the remaining pedestrian entry known as PedEast to handle pedestrian border traffic until now. Marin blamed the continued closure on a backlog in training new staff, caused by the shutdown of CBP academy classes during the pandemic.
“In a calmer pandemic world, we are working to get healthier in onboarding officers,” Marin said. “I am looking at every option to open PedWest. I understand the value of PedWest and San Ysidro in general to our economy.”
More CBP Officers = More Opens Lanes
However no date has been set for its reopening of PedWest – yet – as catching up on the backlog of onboarding new officers must take priority.
I am constantly reassessing what my workforce looks like and looking to reopen as soon as possible,” Marin said.
“In the interim, my commitment is to open as many lanes as possible and particularly during high commute hours, opening all lanes on the east side to try to mitigate high traffic.”
That’s definitely welcome news to frequent border crossers who have long complained about closed lanes and unstaffed 2nd booths at the border while waiting for 2 to 3 hours or more in line to cross