Article by
Dani Reiter
Updated
November 27th, 2019

El Paso Prepares Express Lanes For Thanksgiving Holiday Travels

CBP encourages travelers to obtain RFID entry documents to use Ready Lanes and enroll in trusted traveler programs ahead of holiday weekends

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The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations in El Paso, Texas, is encouraging travelers to plan ahead to facilitate the Thanksgiving holiday’s extra traffic to Mexico.

CBP leadership said it expects to open as many lanes as possible to facilitate the increase in border crossers and those seeking I-94 documents. 

In a press release published on November 26, 2019, CBP suggests applying for I-94 travel permits online and utilize Ready Lanes to mitigate travel delays.

El Paso Director of Field Operations Hector Mancha said in the statement, “As always, we thank the traveling public for their patience during this busy period and for using available technology to expedite their crossing.”

Travelers to Mexico can receive a provisional I-94 after submitting their application and payment online. 

To finalize the I-94 process, travelers must present themselves at a port of entry within 7 days of their application to be interviewed by a CBP officer, submit biometric finger scans and a photo is taken.

CBP also encourages travelers to obtain and utilize radio-frequency identification technology (RFID)-equipped travel documents, such as U.S. passport cards and the newer versions (since 2011) of the border crossing card and resident alien card, so that they can utilize Ready Lanes. 

Processing in Ready Lanes is 20 percent faster than normal lanes and provide a time savings of up to 20 seconds per vehicle.

Furthermore, leadership at the El Paso port is working with the city of El Paso to identify peak periods where the city will support additional inspectional resource allocation, such as the following:

  • Travelers going to Mexico at the Presidio port can expect longer than normal waits heading south because of construction.
  • The Marcelino Serna/Tornillo and Fort Hancock ports will adjust staffing to accommodate the expected traffic increase.
  • Traffic is expected to be heavy at the Santa Teresa crossing. All lanes will be opened as needed and leadership will monitor traffic patterns.

Members of the traveling public can monitor Border Wait Times or also obtain the BWT app on their smartphone.

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Also to avoid any potential delays or fines due to travelers bringing prohibited/restricted agricultural items, CBP encourages travelers to declare all agricultural items to a CBP officer upon arrival and before making their journey to consult the Know Before You Go guide.

This includes the recently announced prohibition on the importation of peppers and tomatoes from Mexico.

Regarding Travel Advisories in Mexico, the Chihuahua and Sonora Mexican state governments issued a statement on November 4, 2019, saying ‘an investigation had been launched into the attack of a Morman family with dual U.S./Mexico citizenship.’

Previously, the U.S. Embassy Consulate General in Hermosillo, Mexico issued a Security Alert on October 17, 2019, which said there are ongoing conflicts between government forces and groups throughout the Culiacan, Sinaloa area.

The U.S. Department of State last updated its Level 2 Travel Advisory for the country of Mexico on April 9, 2019, which explained the various regional Level 3, Reconsider Travel, warnings.

Furthermore, from a health perspective, UK health officials classified Mexico as having a risk of Zika virus transmission.

And, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on June 20, 2019, to ensure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before visiting Mexico. These vaccines include MMR, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella, polio vaccines, and your yearly flu shot.

Travel advisory news published by Vax Before Travel.