Study: No exact way to measure port of entry wait times - Tucson News Now

Study: No exact way to measure port of entry wait times

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Long lines, long wait, but no really accurate way to track lines at our border.

That's the message today from a new study released by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

They're calling out the Department of Homeland Security, saying there are no accurate trackers to really tell us how long the wait times are at our nation's ports of entry.

Local Business leaders say these wait times have a direct impact on their bottom line and that could mean higher costs passed on to you.

The Mariposa Port of Entry is one of the busiest ports in the country. According to one study done by researchers in Southern California, the wait time is estimated to be about 37 minutes.

But truck drivers and business leaders who deal with these lines everyday- that is on a good day. In reality, they tell us it's a lot longer.

"We see anecdotally here in Arizona wait times much longer than 37.5 minutes that the CREATE report is saying often times it two to four to six hours," said Lance Jungmeyer with the Fresh Produce Association of America.

Business owners say with every minute a truck is sitting in line waiting for inspections, they're losing money.

"Every hour that produce truck is waiting is an hour it's not getting on a store shelf and on to a consumer's plate," said Lance Jungmeyer. "It's not as fresh as it could be."

Those in the produce industry say there is a desperate need for more agriculture inspectors.

"Frankly the system is at a breaking point."

Bruce Bracker, chairman of the Greater Nogales/Santa Cruz County Port Authority says this is a battle they've been fighting for the last seven years.

"Right now the Port Authority is working on an Arizona-based program," Bracker said. "Trying to get 500  customs officers into the state."

Knowing the exact wait time is crucial. One study shows this Nogales checkpoint has the worst wait time in the country.  

Having solid numbers will help the Department of Homeland Security determine which ports need more officers.

"Businesses are losing money," Lance said. "Adding more customs officers will really help the issue."

Tucson News Now reached out to Customs and Border Protection officials for a comment. Officials tell me they are still reviewing this report. The full document is over 100 pages long. They hope to have a statement Tuesday.

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