US flag Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Archived Content

In an effort to keep CBP.gov current, the archive contains content from a previous administration or is otherwise outdated.

CBP Prepares And Offers Tips In Advance of Juarez Visit Of Pope Francis

Release Date: 
January 21, 2016

EL PASO, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection in conjunction with area law enforcement agencies, stakeholders and others is preparing for the Juarez visit of Pope Francis. Below are a series of steps the various CBP components are taking to prepare as well as tips for those planning to visit the El Paso/Juarez area.

Office of Field Operations – Ports of entry

In anticipation of an influx of border crossers, the CBP Office of Field Operations will increase staffing and service hours at area ports before, during and after the February 17 Juarez visit of Pope Francis. This includes the El Paso, Santa Teresa, and Tornillo ports of entry.

The Santa Teresa POE will be open for passenger vehicles and pedestrians 24 hours a day February 15-19. The Tornillo POE will be open for passenger vehicles and pedestrian vehicles 24 hours a day February 17-19. This is being done in conjunction with Mexican authorities.

The Bridge of the Americas cargo facility will close at 2 p.m. February 16 and resume normal operations February 19. Cargo hours of operation are being expanded at the Ysleta/Zaragosa and the Santa Teresa cargo facilities. Both locations will be open from 8 a.m. until midnight February 16-18. This is being done in conjunction with Mexican authorities. Area international trade stakeholders have been notified.

An event of this magnitude will result in longer than normal processing times at area ports of entry. Members of the traveling public should anticipate delays and plan accordingly. Port of entry border wait time information is available at http://bwt.cbp.gov/

Also available to assist travelers is the free Border Wait Time app available at the Apple App Store and Google Play. The app is a one-stop shop for cross border travel and provides estimated wait times and open lane status at land ports of entry.

CBP will also provide border crossing information updates via Twitter before, during and after the event. Please follow CBP’s local Twitter account: @CBPWestTexas.

Travelers can also observe current traffic conditions at the Paso Del Norte, Stanton and Ysleta bridges on the city of El Paso website.

CBP officers will perform their primary homeland security mission to make certain that all people who apply for entry do so according to law. Members of the traveling public will need appropriate entry documents to enter the U.S. from Mexico. Information can be found here: www.getyouhome.gov.

Members of the traveling public should understand that certain items are prohibited and/or restricted and should not be imported from Mexico. Travelers can familiarize themselves with import requirements here: www.cbp.gov/travel/us-citizens/know-before-you-go. It is best to declare all items acquired abroad to CBP to avoid fines and penalties.

Air and Marine Operations

The El Paso Air Branch of Air and Marine Operations (AMO) will serve a vital role as part of a multi-agency combined law enforcement initiative to address the February 17, 2015 visit by Pope Francis in Juarez, Mexico.

The primary role of AMO in El Paso will be to coordinate aviation law enforcement actions, and contribute to the planning, public safety and security of the international boundary of El Paso, Texas. AMO will be leading the Air Component Unified Command structure for the event.

As part of the multi-agency security effort at the event, AMO will also be anticipating a significant influx of traffic to the border area, and will supplement its staffing levels accordingly to meet security needs.

Due to security considerations, AMO and other CBP components will not be discussing specific tasking, methodology, resources, or personnel numbers as part of its plan to carry out homeland security responsibilities.

Under the umbrella of CBP, AMO will also be providing a tremendous amount of aerial surveillance planning and coordination for the event in keeping with border security efforts.

CBP has requested a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) be put in place on the day of the event and general aviation pilots should check their local Notices to Airman (NOTAMs) to see the times of operation. Additionally, now that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has enacted new rules governing the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), there may be restrictions on their usage in and around the event. To avoid any issues with possible fines it is highly encouraged that users check the FAA website governing their use and try the new mobile app “B4UFLY” as a resource for operators of UAS. https://www.faa.gov/uas/b4ufly/.

The El Paso Branch of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine is requesting to know if any television outlets are planning to bring aircraft into the El Paso for the event so they may pass along important information on flight requirements for that day. Please provide information to CBP AMO representative Efren Gonzalez at 915-775-7000.

In addition to its security expectations during the event, the El Paso Air Branch of AMO will also remain available to carry out its daily primary homeland security mission throughout west Texas and New Mexico, to insure the overall security of the southwest border.

U.S. Border Patrol

CBP/U.S. Border Patrol El Paso Sector (EPT) has been working in conjunction other local, state and federal agencies to prepare for the visit from Pope Francis on February 17, 2016 to Juarez, Mexico.

The El Paso Sector will continue to monitor and maintain steady state Border Security operations throughout the event.

The United States Border Patrol will also be working side-by-side with other local, state and federal agencies in augmentation of their resources to enhance public safety in various roles, to include the facilitation of traffic flow, general security, medical response, as needed to assist with related situations as they occur and other public safety roles.

The El Paso Sector Border Patrol is closely monitoring the situation as it evolves and in conjunction with U.S. Border Patrol Headquarters and other CBP components, will ensure that the necessary resources will be available to address any challenges and requests for assistance that may arise.

The El Paso Sector will provide BORSTAR resources to assist local first responders with medical emergencies at various locations for the event.

A large number of people from within the El Paso area as well as out of town visitors are expected to congregate in the area and will increase traffic levels throughout the El Paso border area. The El Paso Sector requests that the general public be patient and understanding as safety and security operations are conducted, and recognize that there will be various uniformed local, state and federal agencies performing various public safety roles that may be non-traditional.  All are working to ensure that the event is as safe and enjoyable as possible for all involved.

General Information

CBP understands that certain individuals may attempt to use this event as a way to circumvent the CBP inspection process at border ports and interior Border Patrol checkpoints. CBP’s primary mission has always been the protection of our nation, and our residents and visitors. That will continue before, during and following this event.

CBP’s goal is to create a safe and secure environment for border crossers, CBP employees, and CBP facilities. We are working closely within the various CBP components and our law enforcement partners to achieve these goals.

CBP will not discuss the specific means, methods, resources, or numbers we will utilize to carry out our homeland security responsibilities. We can say there is a tremendous amount of advance planning and coordination in the areas of border security and the processing of border crossers relative to this event.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017