CBP Deploys Multiple Facilitation Measures as Holy Week Traffic Reaches Peak at the Laredo Port of Entry
LAREDO, Texas– With the rapid approach of Holy Week, one of the busiest travel periods of the year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Laredo Port of Entry have implemented a variety of effective measures to facilitate a smooth, orderly traffic flow, including a designated lane, electronic tourist permits, expanded processing hours and a satellite, off-site tourist permit processing booth.
“For CBP, Holy Week is a peak travel period and our deployment of multiple facilitation measures and travel tips continues to help tremendously to keep wait times down to manageable levels while retaining our ability to carry out our border security mission,” said Port Director Alberto Flores, Laredo Port of Entry. “Travelers are also encouraged to present WHTI- (Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative) compliant documents during inspection, and ensure they are not in possession of inadmissible or prohibited goods. These efforts, along with business transformational initiatives to expedite permit and commercial bus processing implemented by CBP have resulted in an overall wait time reduction of approximately one-third compared to previous Semana Santa travel seasons,” Flores said.
Port Director Flores continued, “CBP would like to thank the traveling public for their partnership and encourages continued use of trusted traveler and designated local traveler lanes and WHTI-compliant documents through the remainder of the Semana Santa travel season.”
“Our management team at the Laredo Port of Entry continues to innovate and adapt, implementing measures and programs to manage peak travel periods while facilitating lawful trade and travel,” said Director, Field Operations David P. Higgerson, Laredo Field Office. “That coupled with a careful and constant analysis of traffic volumes and deploying organic resources to meet the workload has proven effective in managing these peak traffic flows while carrying out the CBP mission.”
The Laredo Port of Entry strongly encourages travelers to apply for their tourist permits online via http://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.
CBP, in collaboration with the newly constructed Outlet Shoppes at Laredo, have implemented a Mobile Processing Center for issuance of I-94 tourist permits. The Mobile Enrollment Center is available from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., from March 20 to 29, 2018 and is located on the second floor directly above the food court of the Outlet Shoppes at Laredo, 1600 Water St.
In close coordination with the Government of Mexico and the City of Laredo, the designated lane, which is designed for local cross border traffic that does not require tourist permits or other benefits is available beginning on March 18 through April 2, 2018.
The designated lane, which runs the full length of the Juarez-Lincoln international bridge and fans out to three primary inspection booths, has delineators installed to indicate their location to local commuters and to ensure that daily local traffic is being processed in a timely manner. CBP encourages daily border crossers to utilize these assigned lanes which are located on the three Westernmost lanes of the Juarez-Lincoln Bridge.
CBP also encourages travelers to obtain and utilize 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 so that they can utilize Ready Lanes. Processing in Ready Lanes is 20 percent faster than normal lanes and provide a time savings of up to 20 seconds per vehicle. Those who have renewed their entry documents within the last 24 months already have radiofrequency identification enabled documents (RFID) and may not know it. CBP encourages travelers to obtain RFID entry documents to use Ready Lanes and enroll in trusted traveler programs.
Members of the traveling public can monitor Border Wait Times via this link or also obtain the BWT app on their smartphone via Apple App Store and Google Play so that they can observe the wait times and make an informed decision on which bridge to use. These wait times are updated on an hourly basis.
CBP reminds the public that they may utilize the Colombia-Solidarity Bridge as an alternate route to avoid heavy traffic. CBP has enacted expanded hours for passenger traffic, opening beginning at 6 a.m.-midnight at Colombia-Solidarity Bridge during the first weekend of Holy Week, March 23-26 and will continue to monitor traffic.
Also to avoid any potential delays or fines due to travelers bringing prohibited/restricted agricultural items, CBP encourages travelers to declare all agricultural items to a CBP officer upon arrival and before making their journey to consult the Know Before You Go guide at the following link.