WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Customs and Border Protection submitted to the Federal Register today a final rule that will extend the border zone up to 55 miles, from the current 25 mile restriction, for Border Crossing Card (BCC) holders crossing from Mexico into the state of New Mexico. This change allows BCC holders entering the United States by land, to travel to the cities of Deming and Las Cruces, N.M., stimulating commerce, trade and tourism activity in the area.
"Increasing the border zone in New Mexico will allow CBP to better allocate its resources by reducing unnecessary paperwork burdens associated with the Form I-94 process for both travelers and CBP officers," said CBP Acting Commissioner Thomas S. Winkowski.
"Extending the Border Commercial Zone to include additional communities in Southern New Mexico is a smart decision and I thank Secretary Napolitano for responding to our request," said Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)."With this extension, we can focus our border resources on catching more dangerous criminals and drug traffickers while providing a key boost to our economies. Businesses, along with the support from local law enforcement, have sought this rule change for years to put New Mexico on a level playing field with other border states, and I am pleased that people will now be able to shop, travel and visit their families more easily."
"The communities of southern New Mexico have fought for many years to get this done. Extending the Border Commercial Zone to 55 miles will help businesses in the region, promote job creation, spur the local economy, and bring in more tax revenue for the state. I thank Secretary Napolitano for her work in seeing this through," said New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich.
The current process to obtain a Form I-94 includes a secondary inspection with an officer with interview, fingerprinting, database queries, and other paperwork to confirm legitimate travel.
Current DHS regulations state that certain nonimmigrant Mexican nationals presenting a BCC are not required to complete a CBP Form I-94 if they are staying within 25 miles of the border. In 1999, this regulation was amended for the state of Arizona to allow BCC holders to travel up to 75 miles from the border for similar economic stimulations facilitated by increased trade and travel.
As part of CBP's work to bring advances in technology and automation to the passenger processing environment, this change will decrease paperwork for both the officer and the traveler and will allow CBP to better optimize its resources.
CBP recently announced another effort also intended to decrease paperwork for both the traveler and CBP officer in the air and sea environment - the automation of the Form I-94 for air and sea travelers meaning that affected visitors will no longer need to fill out a paper form when arriving to the U.S. by air or sea, improving procedures and reducing costs as well.