Border Crossing Data Continue to Show a Tight Northern Border and a Loose Southern One

By David North on April 27, 2021

America has two land borders, a shorter one with Mexico and a longer one with Canada.

Covid-19 sends us lots of new patients from Mexico, as my colleague Todd Bensman has reported.

It sends us few from Canada.

New travel restrictions were ordered late last March to cope with the situation.

So why do newly released March 2021 data show (in comparison with March 2020 numbers) that legal border crossings have been shaved by 2.6 percent on the southern border, and by a thumping 83.1 percent on the northern border?

Is it because both the Trump and Biden administrations regard cross-border shopping, at the southern border, as being in the “national interest”?

That’s part of it. The other part is that Canada, sensibly, I believe, insists on tough quarantine rules, while Mexico (more or less like Brazil) pays little attention to the virus. Hence, people entering Canada from the U.S. cannot move back and forth quickly, but bouncing back and forth over the southern border continues to be part of life.

The table below charts entries at the five busiest ports of entry at both the northern and southern borders in March 2020 and in March of this year. In each case, we are dealing with legal entrances of both U.S. citizens and aliens; all of these flows are into the U.S., counting individual entries, not the number of people involved. So a person living in Mexico and shopping once every three days in the U.S. would show up 10 times in a month.

Arrivals at the Five Busiest Land Ports of
Entry, South and North, March 2020 & 2021
(in thousands)

Port of Entry March
San Ysidro, Calif. 2,168 2,342  
El Paso, Texas 1,149 931  
Laredo, Texas 865 651  
Otay Mesa, Calif. 763 934  
Hidalgo, Texas 752 558  
Total for Five Southern Ports 5,697 5,417 -2.60%
Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y. 301 31  
Detroit, Mich. 284 94  
Blaine, Wash. 204 21  
Port Huron, Mich. 93 7  
Champlain-Point Rouses, N.Y. 77 9  
Total for Five Northern Ports 959 162 -83.10%

Source: Data provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,
to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which published it here.

Thus, at this time last year the ratio of entries at the southern and northern borders was about six to one; now there are 33 times as many entries in the south as in the north.

As we noted earlier this week, the tough rules at the northern border mean that in at least 15 ports of entry, U.S. inspectors saw average daily arrivals that were always below two a day, during each month in the three-month period. And, in fact, the port at Ambrose, in a lightly populated part of North Dakota, had no business at all for the entire month of February, despite being staffed eight hours a day, seven days a week.

On April 26, Customs and Border Protection issued a press release saying that their little-used port of entry at Monticello, Maine, which had been seeing about one quarter of a car a day for the last year, would be closed until October 1 of this year because of inactivity. This port’s traffic is not reported by DOT under the name Monticello, but is included with an adjacent port and so is not in our table as a result.

The closure is to be commended.