CBP Advises of Travel Facilitation Programs to Expedite Processing of Spring Break, Holy Week Traffic at South Texas Ports of Entry
LAREDO, Texas – On the cusp of Spring Break and as Holy Week draws closer, one of the busiest times of year for U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s South Texas ports of entry, CBP encourages holiday travelers to use Ready Lanes, enroll in trusted traveler programs and apply for tourist permits online as the agency employs additional measures to facilitate traffic flow.
“We want to advise non-immigrant visa, passport holders seeking to travel to the U.S. interior for Spring Break or Holy Week to apply online for their tourist permits to facilitate their processing at the port,” said Director, Field Operations David P. Higgerson, Laredo Field Office. “Remember that with online tourist permit application, the traveler must present themselves at the port of entry within seven days of the application. In addition we will again take to the airwaves to promote Ready Lanes and employ measures such as opening all available lanes as needed to help facilitate traffic.”
The Laredo Field Office strongly encourages travelers to apply for their tourist permits online via https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/ Travelers will now receive a provisional I-94 after submitting their application and payment online. To finalize the I-94 process, travelers must present themselves at a port of entry within seven days of their application to be interviewed by a CBP officer, submit biometric fingerscans and a photo is taken. Laredo Field Office ports of entry will extend front of the line privileges to travelers who submit their I-94 applications electronically and present their provisional I-94 permit receipt.
The radio outreach will also encourage radio-frequency identification technology (RFID)-equipped travel documents such as U.S. passport cards and the newer versions (i.e. since 2011) of the border crossing card and resident alien card, to utilize the Ready Lanes and for travelers to have their entry documents ready as they approach the booth to facilitate their processing. Some travelers may already have RFID-enabled documents and not know it.
Facilitation measures such as opening lanes commensurate with traffic flow are designed to enable processing of a larger than normal volume of travelers seeking tourist permits to travel into the interior of the U.S. while facilitating the daily commuter traffic flows.
CBP still strives to temper the facilitation measures with security, always upholding CBP’s anti-terrorism mission. CBP will monitor traffic volumes at international bridges across South Texas and stands ready to post additional officers to ensure all available lanes are open, commensurate with traffic flow. In some locations, Border Patrol agents will augment existing staffing.
In Laredo and Brownsville, CBP advises travelers to tune in to AM 1610 to listen to repeating radio broadcasts of important tips in English and Spanish regarding documents necessary to cross, enrollment in the SENTRI program and other useful traveler tips. The 10-watt signal can be heard several miles north and south of the international bridges in Laredo and Brownsville.
In Laredo specifically during Holy Week, CBP will be processing buses at Colombia-Solidarity Bridge as part of a pilot program to facilitate bus processing amid ongoing new processing facility construction and renovations at Lincoln-Juarez Bridge and Gateway to the Americas Bridge. CBP also will continue to process I-94 tourist permits after vehicular traffic closes at midnight at Colombia-Solidarity Bridge until all permits are processed. CBP also will divert some vehicular traffic through the former import lot at Lincoln-Juarez Bridge on an as-needed basis to facilitate traffic flow.
Lastly, since Easter is fast approaching, CBP is reminding the traveling public that cascarones (confetti-filled eggshells) are restricted to quantities of 10 per passenger and the shells may be decorated or etched but they must be empty, clean and free of any egg residue.
Cascarones are a restricted commodity by CBP in order to prevent further spread of Exotic Newcastle Disease (END) through contaminated eggshells. END is a highly contagious, fatal viral disease that affects a substantial number of bird species, attacking respiratory, nervous and digestive systems. Mortality is up to 90 percent of exposed birds.