CBP Expands Time Saving Initiative during Final Shopping Days before Christmas
EL PASO, TEXAS—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is expanding a lane staffing initiative that has successfully reduced border crossing times during peak traffic periods and throughout the day. Since May of this year CBP has fully staffed all vehicle and pedestrian primary inspection lanes between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. The impact has resulted in a 14% decrease in wait times during the four-hour peak morning traffic period and a 17% reduction throughout the balance of the day.
CBP will expand the lane staffing initiative on Friday and Saturday. It will run from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. Sunday all lanes will be staffed from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.
"The final weekend before Christmas has traditionally been the busiest at the El Paso port of entry," said Hector Mancha, CBP El Paso port director. "We believe that extending our staffing initiative will have a positive impact and expedite the entry of those looking to cross the border in the next few days."
CBP will be able to take this step by temporarily moving port personnel from existing work stations to primary inspection lanes. For example, cargo traffic is reduced during the holiday period so that provides CBP with some flexibility to move resources and meet the added demand.
"We would also like to remind frequent border crossers that those seeking a consistently faster entry should consider enrolling in the SENTRI program," said Mancha. "The program cost is about seven cents per day and provides trusted travelers the opportunity to quickly cross the border at the Ysleta and Stanton car lanes and the Paso Del Norte (PDN) pedestrian inspection area."
In addition to opening all lanes during peak hours, CBP has recently implemented a number of technological upgrades that improve processing times while strengthening border security. These improvements are all built upon the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) "Improving to Keep You Moving" theme.
Ready Lanes are now operational at PDN, Bridge of the Americas, (BOTA), and Ysleta vehicle crossings. Pedestrian Ready Lanes are also operational at PDN. Ready Lanes simultaneously speed up processing times and enhance security by utilizing Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) technology to provide advanced information to officers processing traffic.
High intensity LED signage is also operational at PDN, BOTA, and Ysleta to guide travelers to open vehicle lanes, Ready Lanes, and SENTRI lanes. CBP has also installed low power AM radio stations at the Ysleta and BOTA bridges to broadcast relevant information to travelers. These messages are in English and Spanish.
The most recent technological improvement is the implementation of document reading kiosks at all pedestrian lanes at PDN. The kiosks also provide advanced information to officers processing pedestrian traffic, thus improving processing times.
In addition, CBP is also offering a series of tips to help travelers. The tips are useful because the holiday travel season is usually a time when people who are unfamiliar with CBP protocols cross the border and travel to the interior of the U.S. Others cross the border more frequently than normal to shop, visit family and friends, and attend holiday related events. Adopting the strategies provided in the list can help travelers cross the border quickly, safely and without incident.
Tip #1 - Travelers should prepare for the inspection process before arriving at the inspection booth. Please have crossing documents available for the inspection including a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) approved document for U.S. citizens.
Tip #2 - Drivers with RFID-enabled documents should consider using one of the Ready Lanes now operational at the Paso Del Norte, Bridge of the Americas, and Ysleta crossings. Processing times at these lanes are generally 15-20 seconds quicker per vehicle than normal lanes.
Tip #3 - Travelers approaching an interior Border Patrol checkpoint should have their documents ready to present to the U.S. Border Patrol agent if asked. This will save time.
Tip #4 - Travelers should declare all items acquired abroad. In addition, individuals should end cellular phone conversations before arriving at the inspection booth.
Tip #5 - Travelers should build extra time into their trips in the event they cross during periods of exceptionally heavy traffic. This includes SENTRI/Dedicated Commuter Lane (DCL) users.
Tip #6 - Travelers are encouraged to visit the "Know Before You Go" section of the CBP website to avoid fines and penalties associated with the importation of prohibited items. "Know Before You Go" brochures are available at border ports.
Tip #7 - Consult the CBP website site to monitor border crossing times. Information is updated hourly and is useful in planning trips and identifying periods of light use/short waits.
Tip #8 - During periods of heavy travel, border crossers may wish to consider alternative entry routes. They should also travel during non-peak hours if their schedule allows.
Tip #9 - Visit the port of entry to obtain I-94 travel documents in advance of the busiest holiday travel periods. This will allow travelers who require I-94 documents (those planning to travel beyond the border zone or stay in the U.S. for more than 30 days) to bypass those lines when they formally enter the U.S. They will still be subject to the inspection process.
Tip #10 - Drivers should insure that their vehicles are properly maintained and mechanically sound and that occupants avoid riding in areas of vehicles not specifically designed to carry passengers. Failure to follow these steps can expose crossers/passengers to carbon monoxide.