El Paso, Texas - The freezing temperatures that El Paso and southern New Mexico experienced last month have left some home owners looking to replace damaged plants and palm trees. Some are considering Mexico as a source to replace their damaged plants.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Office of Field Operations in El Paso has received numerous inquiries from the public in recent days asking if palm trees are allowed into U.S. from Mexico. CBP officers and agriculture specialists at the El Paso ports of entry would like to inform the public that all plants and seeds for planting are prohibited entry into the U.S. from Mexico.
Palm trees are prohibited entry from all countries because of disease and insects that can pose a significant threat to the nation's ornamental palm industry. Seeds are allowed under special entry requirements that require an inspection and certification from the country of origin and inspection by CBP.
"We want to help people avoid penalties by getting this word out now," said Bill Molaski, U.S. Customs and Border Protection El Paso Port Director. "Area residents should not attempt to import these items because they do pose an agricultural threat."
CBP wants to remind travelers and border crossers to declare all items to CBP. Failure to declare a prohibited item can result in a civil penalty. Civil penalties can be as much as $300 for a first offense and up to $1,000 for repeat offenders. Properly declared prohibited items can be abandoned at the port without incident. CBP has been diligent in their inspections and efforts will continue through the spring planting season.
Palm tree species common to this area but prohibited from entry include the Mexican Fan palm (Washingtonia robusta), California Fan palm (Washingtonia filifera), Windmill palm (Trachycarpus fourtunei), Sabal palms (Sabal sp.) and Date palms (Phoenix sp.).