EL PASO — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials in El Paso anticipate an increase in border traffic during the holidays. CBP’s Office of Field Operations offered a number of tips to travelers designed expedite the border crossing experience. CBP is also announcing the use of new technology at the PDN pedestrian facility designed to enhance security and expedite the border crossing experience.
“Travelers can speed their crossing by adopting the tips we are suggesting. In addition we have recently deployed new technology at the port which should also help travelers cross the border more quickly,” said Hector Mancha, CBP El Paso Port Director. “Nevertheless border crossers should remember that the impact of the holiday season felt at area stores, restaurants and roadways is also being felt at border ports.”
CBP offered a series of tips to help travelers.
Adopting the strategies provided in a list at the end of this document can help travelers cross the border quickly, safely and without incident.
Along with offering tips CBP has recently upgraded the PDN pedestrian crossing by installing document reading kiosks at all inspection booths. The kiosks are designed to enhance overall security and speed the entry process the upgrades build upon the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) “Improving to Keep You Moving” theme.
The kiosks are positioned before the primary inspection booth and can scan the entry document of a traveler before arrival at the inspection station. To use the kiosk the traveler places his or her document on the scanner and waits for it to be read before approaching the CBP officer at the primary inspection booth.
This allows the CBP officer to receive the traveler’s information in advance, allowing for faster processing while also enhancing overall security. The system can save several seconds in the processing of every pedestrian traveler. The PDN facility routinely processes more than 10,000 pedestrians daily so the time saving can be extensive.
The kiosks are the latest efficiency initiative implemented at the El Paso port. Others included a pedestrian gate system installed at the Paso Del Norte (PDN) crossing to expedite the secure entry of pedestrians; Ready Lanes now operational at all local crossings; high-intensity LED lane signage above vehicle lanes at PDN, Bridge of the Americas (BOTA) and Ysleta; and short distance AM radio stations broadcasting traveler information at the Ysleta and BOTA crossings.
CBP top 10 holiday crossing tips:
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 — 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 at http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/vacation/kbyg/ to avoid finess 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. 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.