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Latino Daily News

Saturday April 7, 2012

Tips for a Better Border Crossing Experience

Tips for a Better Border Crossing Experience

Photo: US Mexico Border

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas International Bridges are anticipating an increase in border traffic during this holiday Holy Week. As a result, the agency is adjusting staffing during this week to address the anticipated increase. CBP is offering a number of tips to travelers to expedite the border crossing experience.

CBP will place as many officers as possible in areas where they will be able to process traffic as quickly as possible during peak traffic periods. CBP also encourages travelers to consider other nearby crossings to help facilitate their travel. CBP will closely monitor traffic and keep lanes open as the traffic dictates.

“We will keep a watchful eye on traffic and wait times throughout our three international bridges and adjust staffing where needed to help keep traffic moving while maintaining an effective border security posture,” said Efrain Solis Jr., port director, Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas. “Having an adequate number of officers available to process arriving travelers provides us the flexibility we need to perform our inspections quickly and efficiently while upholding our border security mission.”

CBP is also offering a series of tips to help border area travelers. The tips are useful because this is usually a time of the year when people who are unfamiliar with CBP protocols cross the border and travel to the interior of the U.S. Regular border crossers also typically cross more frequently to shop, visit family and friends, and attend holiday related events. Adopting the strategies provided by CBP 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. ( www.getyouhome.gov )

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 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. ( KBYG ) “Know Before You Go” brochures are available at border ports.

Tip #5 – Consult the CBP website site to monitor border crossing times. ( BWT ) Information is updated hourly and is useful in planning trips and identifying periods of light use/short waits.

Tip #6 – During periods of heavy travel, border crossers may wish to consider alternative entry routes. For example, Hidalgo travelers may want to consider other nearby bridges including the new Donna Bridge or maybe even Progreso.

Tip #7 – 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 #8 – Drivers should ensure 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.

Tip #9 – Travelers should consider obtaining radio frequency identification technology-enabled (RFID) travel documents such as a U.S. passport card or newer versions of the laser visa or resident alien card so that they will be able to use the Ready Lane at select border crossings. For more information on obtaining RFID enabled documents visit Get You Home. ( www.getyouhome.gov )

Tip #10 –Travelers should be patient and expect long wait times as increased travelers crossing the border is customary.

The principal mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is anti-terrorism. CBP officers are committed to identifying and stopping terrorists and the tools of terror. As a result, border crossers should continue to expect a thorough inspection process when they enter the U.S. from Mexico.