LAREDO, Texas – As the U.S.-Mexico border community observes the All Souls Day (Día de los Muertos) holiday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials representing Laredo Field Office ports of entry are advising the traveling public that certain agricultural items used in holiday decorations are prohibited from entry to the U.S. and can carry harmful pests and disease, such as the citrus greening disease. Also CBP would like to remind the public of prohibited fruits that tend to be brought by travelers during this holiday period.
“As families begin to construct altares at home to honor loved ones for All Souls Day, CBP is reminding cross border travelers who purchase items in Mexico that certain flowers, greenery and fruits are prohibited from entry,” said Director, Field Operations Randy J. Howe, Laredo Field Office. “CBP agriculture specialists help protect American agriculture by conducting examinations in both the passenger and commercial environments to prevent plant pests and diseases not known to exist in the U.S. from establishing themselves and wreaking harm on agricultural producers and the American economy.”
Many border community families celebrate Día de los Muertos by constructing altares (altars) to commemorate the lives of loved ones that have passed on. A common type of ornamental greenery known as murraya or orange jasmine is often used in the construction of altares. Murraya is a host plant for the Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri Kuwayama, an insect that can carry citrus greening disease and is therefore prohibited from entry into the U.S.
Citrus greening, also known as “huanglongbing,” is a disease caused by a bacterium that can infect most citrus varieties and some ornamental plants (such as orange jasmine); this disease was first detected in the U.S. in 2005 in the state of Florida, Miami-Dade County. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the disease has seriously affected citrus production in India, Asia, Southeast Asia, the Arabian Peninsula and Africa.
Citrus fruit that is prohibited from personal importation includes the following: oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, sour oranges and sweet limes. Other popular fruits that also are prohibited include guavas, mangoes, peaches and pomegranates.
Failure to declare prohibited agricultural items also can result in fines. Penalties for personal importations of undeclared, prohibited agricultural items, depending on the severity of the violation, can run as high as $1,000 and up to more than $250,000 for commercial importations.
The traveling public can learn more about bringing food items to the U.S. by consulting the attached link. For more information regarding prohibited fruits, vegetables, prepared foods and other items, please consult CBP’s “Know Before You Go” guide link.
For more detailed information about USDA guidelines for bringing agricultural items to the U.S., travelers can also examine the following link.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.