The massive slowdowns at U.S. border crossings, especially at Canadian gateways, experienced on and right after September 11 have eased considerably. However, it is in no way business as usual — nor may it ever be again — for the U.S. Customs Service.
The official word from Customs (www.customs.gov) is that ports of entry on the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders remain open to process traffic and commerce entering the U.S. However, Customs continues to maintain its highest state of alert — Level 1 (Code Red) for “sustained intensive anti-terrorism operations.”
According to Glenn Brown, chairman & CEO of international carrier Contract Freighters Inc., delays at both northern and southern border crossings have eased considerably since the anxious days right after the terrorist attacks.
“Initially,” Brown says, “we experienced very serious delays — up to 20 hours — especially at the Canadian border. Now we are incurring delays of two to three hours at Canadian crossings compared to less than an hour before September 11. It previously took us a couple of hours to cross at the Mexican border, and it now takes one to two hours more.”
The main difference, Brown reports, is that before the terrorist alert went into effect, Customs randomly inspected one in twenty vehicles but now they are inspecting every vehicle.
An online listing of wait times at key northern and southern land crossings is posted twice daily by Customs at http://nemo.customs.gov/process/bordertimes/bordertimes.asp.