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Line starting forming to get into Calexico through the Mexicali Port of Entry by 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov., likely in anticipation of the lifting of the non-essential travel ban for fully vaccinated individuals. Although Sunday nights are always peak times, the line appeared larger than normal, like a "watered-down Black Friday," one official said. | ROY DORANTES PHOTO

‘Black Friday’-like Lines Appear in Mexicali Ahead of Nov. 8 Opening

Although Sunday Night’s Tend to Be Peak Hours for Pedestrian Crossings, “More Than Normal” Lines Form Before Lifting of Non-Essential Travel Ban

MEXICALI/CALEXICO — By 8 p.m. Sunday night, Nov. 7, there appeared to be a larger-than-usual assembly of Mexico residents making the pedestrian line to get into the U.S. through the downtown Calexico Port of Entry.

Although there is much hype about the official lifting of the nonessential travel ban for the fully vaccinated that is set to occur at 6 a.m. Monday, Nov. 8, there is typically a hefty amount of pedestrian traffic awaiting entry through the 24-hour downtown port on a Sunday night.

Still, one Calexico official who asked not to be named said the line is “more than normal. It’s like a watered-down Black Friday,” he said after watching a video filmed on the Mexicali side leading up to the downtown ports. The video and photos were provided by Imperial Valley resident Roy Dorantes.

Several hundred Mexican nationals make the pedestrian line to get into Calexico on Sunday night, Nov. 7. | ROY DORANTES VIDEO

A Customs and Border Protection official on Wednesday, Nov. 3, warned that CBP was expecting delays and longer lines with the reopening of the border, and said Sunday nights are an especially heavy peak time.

Line starting forming to get into Calexico through the Mexicali Port of Entry by 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov., likely in anticipation of the lifting of the non-essential travel ban for fully vaccinated individuals. Although Sunday nights are always peak times, the line appeared larger than normal, like a “watered-down Black Friday,” one official said. | ROY DORANTES PHOTO

In anticipation of the increased traffic from the first “fully” opened border since March 2020, the curtailed hours at the Calexico East Port of Entry were also ended and normal operating hours restored: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

It’s unknown what kind of traffic Calexico can expect this coming week, but in 2014, Imperial County saw 18.6 million people traveling into Imperial County from Mexicali through the Calexico-area ports of entry, according to a 2017 Imperial Valley Border Economic Impact Study. An average of 51,100 individuals entered the county each day during the study period, with 32,300 people entering Calexico daily through the downtown port alone.

The reopening is also expected to bring a much-needed economic boost to the region. Local city, economic development, education, and regional chamber of commerce officials gathered for a big media event on Oct. 27 in El Centro, where day tourism and shopping revenue were on people’s minds, among other topics.

The same Imperial Valley Border Economic Impact Study from 2017 of border crossers revealed that those travelers were spending an estimated $1 billion in the county on an annual basis.

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