U.S. CBP Offers Tips for Easter Holiday Border Crossing
El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the El Paso port of entry and other area international crossings are providing guidance to assist those travelers who intend to travel between the U.S. from Mexico in the days before the Easter holiday. The tips are designed to ease the crossing process as CBP officers maintain their principal anti-terror mission.
The Easter/Holy Week season is historically one of the busiest travel periods at southwest border crossings. Along with a general 10-15 percent increase in overall traffic figures, another area that experiences a significant increase in volume is the number of Mexican laser visa card holders who request the I-94 travel documents required to travel beyond the border zone during the holiday. Applications for I-94's typically double or triple at the El Paso port of entry during Holy Week.
CBP officers also typically seize large numbers of confetti-filled cascarones in the days leading up to the Easter holiday. Travelers can legally import up to 10 cascarones but they must be completely clean and be presented for inspection. The colorful eggshells are a concern because they may introduce Exotic Newcastle's Disease to the U.S. poultry industry. Violators are subject fines.
U.S. citizen travelers are also reminded that under the requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative they now need a U.S. Passport, U.S. Passport card, or other approved WHTI document to enter the U.S. at a land border crossing.
In an effort to provide the best possible service to the traveling public during the upcoming holiday season, CBP officials are proactively reminding members of the traveling public that there are a number of steps they can employ to cross the border as quickly and safely as possible while avoiding violations of U.S. law.
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 approved document for U.S. citizens.
Tip #2 - Travelers should declare all items acquired abroad. In addition, individuals should end cellular phone conversations before arriving at the inspection booth.
Tip #3 - 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 #4 - Travelers who do have RFID enabled documents may wish to consider using the designated "Ready Lanes" at the Ysleta crossing. These lanes are for use only by those with the appropriate documents and generally provide a shorter wait.
Tip #5 - Pedestrian crossers at the Paso Del Norte inspection station should use the pedestrian SENTRI lane if they hold a SENTRI card. This lane never has a wait and is open to people of all nationalities who obtain a SENTRI document.
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 at http://apps.cbp.gov/bwt/ 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. For example, they may want to use the nearby and less heavily traveled Fabens or Santa Teresa ports of entry instead of the El Paso port.
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 - 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 #11 - 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.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.