By Erik Lee & Rick Van Schoik
The opening of the Pedestrian West port of entry in San Ysidro this week reminds us that the actual look and feel of the U.S.-Mexico border is finally changing. And these changes are long overdue. Dated, non-user-friendly and even unsafe infrastructure at our shared border with Mexico has contributed greatly to the border’s poor image in the United States, Mexico and beyond.
PedWest — though not without its own issues — is fairly unique, because although significant strides have been made recently with new binational rail, truck and vehicle crossings, updates to pedestrian crossings have generally lagged throughout the entire region. This is at least partly due to the fact that the millions of cross-border pedestrians that are processed by Customs and Border Protection officers every year at official ports of entry do not have political representation as do cross-border commercial interests. While they have been the absolute last priority for border infrastructure, these pedestrians are key to the economic health of communities such as San Ysidro, Calexico, El Paso and elsewhere.