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Friday, March 29, 2013 - 11:18pm
EL PASO TX — Downtown El Paso bustles with Easter holiday shoppers, crossing to and from Mexico. Long lines and wait times are expected over the holiday. But now with budget cuts at the border, long lines could be the norm.
Customs and Border Patrol just notified 24,000 officers that they would be forced to take unpaid days off each week.
Michelle Duggan crosses every weekend with her children to see her husband who lives in Juarez. She says the lines are already long because there aren't many people on staff to begin with. Wait times could jump from 30 minutes to five hours during peak hours, something Duggan's children will unfortunately, have to bare.
“When it's like I've been waiting for an hour and a half, they'll start crying you can't get out the line because they'll put you all the way back. Sometimes there's only like from over there to here when you cross, there's only like two people, two border patrol and its like a lot. And sometimes theres 4 or five it depends on the time you come,” said Duggan.
Many expect the long line and just plan to stay on either side a little longer to make up for the long wait.
"We cross a lot and the lines are really long. We stay like three hours in line everyday,” said holiday traveler Alicia Santos.
Justin Carrillo visits his family in Juarez often.
"Expecting the line so there's nothing you can do just prepare for it you know what I mean,” said holiday traveler Justin Carrillo.
And while it doesn't seem to be deterring people from crossing the border during the Easter holiday weekend, there are fears it will in the months to come.
"It's going to affect everybody. You got Americans that go over there and they have to make it back to El Paso and it affects them business wise, their jobs," said El Paso resident Juan Reynolds.
Carrillo says the lawmakers in Washington D.C. have no idea what it's like for people crossing everyday.
“There's little kids. You got senior citizens waiting. I don't think they realize how its gonna affect us," said Carrillo.
Customs and Border Patrol will also implement a hiring freeze, and reduce or eliminate overtime, travel, and training programs.