SAN YSIDRO — Thousands of Mexican Roman Catholics are expected to travel to Los Angeles this week in hopes of seeing the Pope, but the turnout is not expected to be heavy enough to pose a problem for U.S. border authorities.
"We're not anticipating any huge increase in traffic," said James Turnage, district director for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in Los Angeles. "I think it's going to be modest."
U.S. border authorities, however, will open as many as six additional inspection lanes at the San Ysidro crossing Tuesday evening and Wednesday because the papal visit coincides with the celebration of Mexican Independence Day, a normally busy time at the border.
Even more lanes will be opened if necessary.
"We'll add on whatever we need to in order to keep the traffic moving," Turnage said.
Alfonso Bustamante, president of Tijuana's Tourism and Conventions Bureau, predicted that 2,000 to 4,000 people may venture from Tijuana to Los Angeles in hopes of glimpsing the Pope. However, he noted that "a lot of people don't have the papers to go."
While Catholicism is Mexico's major religion and the Pope's visit to the United States has been front-page news here, many Mexican Catholics were able to see the pontiff during his visit in January, 1979, to Mexico.