Front of the line

Pictures of the border line by Kinsee Morlan

My life just got a whole lot better. This morning, at precisely 10:45 a.m., the US government issued me a Sentri pass! You San Diegans may recognize the term “Sentri” from your daily traffic report, “There’s an hour and a half wait at San Ysidro Port of Entry, and you’ve got about 15 minutes in the Sentri line.”

Oh yeah, baby. Now I’m part of the wait-for-15-minutes-instead-of-two-hours crew, and if feels good. Freedom feels damn good. So why did I wait so long? I’ve crossed with the non-Sentri holders for a year now, but I have my reasons. In fact, I have three reasons:


1. Until a few months ago the whole Sentri-application process was screwy. You had to call a number and leave a message to make an appointment. I called and left three messages. No one ever called me back. I eventually gave up. A few months ago, though, I caught wind that they had finally moved the process online. Now, you can get a pass in just a few days as long as you have all the necessary documents (passport, driver’s license, pay stub, proof of residency and so on and so forth).

2. This postmodern speed we’re all living in these days is sucking my life away. The year in Tijuana came and went in what felt like not even a blink, maybe just a little squint of the eye. I kept meaning to get around to it, but then I’d get an email, or a text message, or my cell would ring.

3. I thought the Sentri pass was a fast-pass to Facism more than it was a fast-pass to cross a border. I convinced myself that Sentri was only for the rich and well-documented (read: white) and that I, being the bleeding-hear Mexican-loving liberal I am, wanted nothing to do with it. The truth is, the pass is for the rich (you have to pay about $150, which is a lot in Mexico) and well-documented (getting passports, official pay stubs and driver’s licenses is no easy task when you’re poor, raising a couple kids or don’t have a job), but I just couldn’t wait in that horrid, polluted line anymore. I could feel my lungs filling with carbon monoxide from the thousands of idling exhaust pipes around me every morning. I will, however, miss the vendors, some who recognize me and one in particluar who knows exactly how I like my morning coffee.

About Kinsee Morlan

Arts and web editor at San Diego CityBeat. Interested in art and the Tijuana/San Diego border.
This entry was posted in Border wait. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Front of the line

  1. Nathan says:

    Congrats on the sentri pass! You’ll forget all these reasons soon enough and be tempted to shout “Suckers!” out the window as you pass quickly along. And when you’ve spent 40min waiting in the sentri lane, oh man, you’ll be more pissed than you ever were waiting two hours. The comfort is addictive.

    I only lasted a year doing the mainstream slog north before going sentri. I too miss the vendors who knew what I wanted for breakfast and would bring it without asking. I wish I’d given them big tips when I had the chance.

  2. SENTRI BULL says:

    I hate CBP and DHS with all my heart. They aren’t protecting anyone. Maybe I’m just pissed because my application for SENTRI was denied based on a little alcohol ticket I got when I was 20. So I, a US citizen who does daily business in Mexico with a Fortune 100 company is more of a security risk than the thousands of Mexicans who live in scummy Tijuana and could have countless untraceable encounters with Mexican law on their record??? Absolutely jacked up. Congrats on your SENTRI.

  3. Audrey says:

    I agree with sentri bull too, I already am getting the aclu involved cuz they denied mine too, because of my husbands “legal status” that’s crazy if he had papers he would have been applying but he wasn’t , but anyway those assholes denied me, but now that I know the process is so easy I see the sentri line getting longer and longer are you still getting through quick??

  4. Aimee says:

    Don’t even get me started!!! I’ve been crossing through Sentri now for three years. The first two were great but ever since they introduced the new computer systems, I’ve had to wait up to TWO HOURS in that damn line. All the while the normal line moving along right next to me.

    Congrats on your new Sentri…you’ll love it once in a while and despise it every other time…Nice to know I’m not the only one!!! Cheers

  5. Brian says:

    Congrats on your Sentri…
    My application was denied because I had someone with me who had no immigration papers in Temecula, California. We were both taken in and I was verbally abused by a pocho and had my fingerprints taken and told if they ever found me with an illegal again I would get three years. I was sent walking out the front door after being detained for over three hours and he was given a bus ride back to Mexico. Several years later he sent a letter asking for forgiveness and was granted a visa. No forgiveness for the gringo though…no Sentri either! Something is wrong!

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