Border Patrol Checkpoint Leaves San Diego Drivers Scratching Their Head


With news that the Border Patrol checkpoint on highway I-15 between San Diego and Riverside Counties is back open, it gives me a good reason to finally write about one of the interesting oddities facing tourists and newcomers to San Diego.

I remember scratching my head as I approached my new hometown of San Diego after driving 3,000 miles cross country. I was making my way through the mountains on highway I-8 passing signs that were counting down the miles remaining on my journey to San Diego. I was ready to release my grip from the steering wheel and soak my feet in the Pacific Ocean.

Border Patrol Checkpoint on Interstate 8

Border Patrol Checkpoint on Interstate 8

And then, I saw a traffic jam ahead. Upon closer look, I realized it was a Border Patrol checkpoint. Questions started racing through my head. Had I accidentally driven into Mexico? Did I need a passport to get through? Were they going to rummage through all the belongings I had stuffed into my car for my new life in San Diego?

It turned out I hadn’t left the country, I didn’t need a passport, and no, they didn’t rummage through my belongings. All they did was take a good look at me as I made a rolling stop and waved me on my way.

That’s the way life is entering and exiting San Diego County. Whether you are crossing the border with Mexico or traveling to and from Arizona to the east, Temecula Wine Country to the north, or Los Angeles to the northwest, every major highway in and out of San Diego has a Border Patrol checkpoint.

You even drive through a one in the middle of the desert on the S-2, which winds its way out through a checkpoint to adjoining Imperial County before you reach I-8, which brings you back to San Diego County and through the checkpoint I encountered on my first drive through San Diego. (Yes, you have to drive through two separate Border Patrol checkpoints when returning from a day of relaxing at the hot springs in a San Diego County Park or hiking through the mud caves in California’s largest state park.)

The checkpoints are not open all the time. Sometimes, they close down for a few hours,  a few days, and even a few months, as was the case with the I-15 checkpoint when more personnel were needed to patrol the border with Mexico. Come to think of it, it’s been a few years since I’ve had to stop on the I-5 on the occasional trip up to Los Angeles.

Despite the traffic delays, having the Border Patrol checkpoints to cross from one county (not country) to another is one of the unique aspects I love about San Diego. How many people get to say they had to pass through a couple Border Patrol checkpoints on their way home from the county park?!

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5 Responses to “Border Patrol Checkpoint Leaves San Diego Drivers Scratching Their Head”

  1. Sandy Yago says:

    I thank the BP agents for keeping our country safe every time I go thru a checkpoint like that.

  2. Scona says:

    I travelled from Yuma to San Diego on December the 16th via Grey Hound.
    The bus stops in El Centro, not on the Interstate, and then goes for miles
    of open road. We were boarded by a patrol twice inside of 2 hours and
    asked each time to produce id.
    How they think that someone could have boarded the bus where there are
    no stops is beyond me. In this modern day of cell phones it would be easy
    to communicate that there were no illegal passengers without stopping it
    This type of security is mindless and theatrical, meant to impress people
    and make them feel secure.
    I’m sure that illegals do not travel at high noon down the interstate, but
    if a bunch of swat teams on the highway every 50 miles makes you feel
    good, who am I to argue.
    If you have guessed that I am not American, you are correct.
    Of course had you been on the bus than you would not have been
    asked for id, only we foreign types………..

  3. Angry Citizen says:

    I went to San Diego about 1 month ago on Hyw 8. We were stopped at both checkpoints as usual. What was not usual, however, was both Border Patrol agents spoke such poor English they were difficult to understand and both DEMANDED, not asked, us to state our citizenship. My first reaction was to want to jump out of the car, click my heels, raise my arm and say “Heil”. My second reaction was anger. This is my country, we have the right of free travel within our country and, while I don’t mind being asked politely for information, there is no reason for anyone to demand information from our citizens. If the Border Patrol cannot do their job and prevent illegals from entering our country, they can at least be polite about the posturing they go through trying to convince us they are being effective in keeping us safe from the invasion from Mexico. Personally, I will never travel Hwy 8 again.

  4. nervous wreck says:

    I had to go to San Diego today for training along with a couple of my colleagues (who are white). I am a dark complected US born citizen and I was the driving one of our local government vehicle. As I was approaching the check point I seen that most vehicle were being waved through. However, the officer took one look at me, stop me and interrogated me like I was on the FBI’s most wanted list. I was humiliated as it usually happens at this check points. I hate it whenever I have to leave the Imperial Valley because I don’t want to got through these inspections. I actually dwell on the fact that I will have to go through a CBP check point weeks before I have to go.

    A lot of people will say that they are glad that they are there, but the thing is that most of them are white, senior citizen, light complected or simply do not have to go through these check points.

    What really got to me today was that I know for a fact that the officer that interrogated me was not born in this country.

    Somebody please make this s%^t stop.

  5. san diego resident says:

    a border checkpoint should be at the border… not in America.. i shouldn’t be stopped in my own country for living in my own country.. the i-8 border checkpoint from el centro to san diego should be shut down,, i am not paying for taxes to employ people to ‘who take their job a little serious’ – its an interrogation every time i drive through. If there is a campaign to close this check point i am 110% behind it.. also last note to above posting @nervous wreck – that’s how i feel every time i have to stop there.. how many times i have answered whether the car i am driving is the car i own.. and anyone reading this please add a comment if you were stopped in a matter you did not feel was just.. file a complaint.. make sure you get officers names and badges… they told me to write it down and the supervisor said as i was released to “make sure you get my name right” — mr. Cenesna and mr. J.Pina.. i hope i got them right… Christopher James Christopherson

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