The United States and Mexico share a contiguous border spanning several thousand miles. On the American side lie the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. The border is often portrayed in news, media, and politics in a very negative light, where drug cartel violence takes place on the Mexican side, and the border is constantly violated by undocumented individuals and drug runners. In truth, the El Paso-Juarez border crossing is actually a vibrant, positive, and productive thing for both the United States and Mexico.
The border crossing between these two cities is actually a series of multiple crossings and ports of entry, where millions of people cross the border every year. In fact, these total border crossings are the largest metroplex crossing any international border on the planet. While many Americans might view Ciudad Juarez as a part of another nation, residents of El Paso know that both cities are part of the larger Paso del Norte region.
The traffic that crosses is immense. The American side of the various ports of entry is owned and operated by the municipal government of El Paso. These stations operate twenty-four hours a day, every day of the week. The total traffic over the three bridges has been recorded at levels of three and a half million passenger vehicles, over four million pedestrians on foot, and nearly a third of a million commercial trucks and vans.
While these three bridges are open around the clock, staffing levels do vary. Even though the American side of the border crossings are owned and operated by the city government of El Paso, they are staffed in part by the Customs and Border Protection of the federal government. Since early 2014, what are called “enhanced inspection services” have been available. This basically means that border wait times are minimized so that travel can move through the checkpoints fluidly. The CBP varies staffing levels and even lane openings in order to adapt to traffic, travel and holiday levels.
The traffic crossing the El Paso-Juarez border is not just locals moving about the greater metropolitan area. Many American tourists stay in El Paso at night but cross over to Juarez during the day to get a taste of another country while spending their nights on home soil. A lot of agricultural produce also moves across this border.
Manufacturing is also a big reason for movement across this particular stretch of border. A few years ago, Microsoft had huge problems with its Xbox 360 consoles dying on users and displaying the dreaded “red rings of death.” While many consoles were just replaced, cheap fixes were found. Microsoft found it cheapest to have defective consoles shipped to El Paso, then trucked to technicians in Mexico that could fix them just as well as Americans, but for far lower cost. These consoles were back in America within hours.
For reasons both local and international, the border crossings between El Paso and Juarez are the busiest in the world.