U.S. Customs and Border Protection El Paso Office of Field Operations encourages travelers to plan ahead, apply for I-94 travel permits online and utilize Ready Lanes as CBP prepares to implement measures to facilitate Thanksgiving weekend holiday traffic.
“CBP is looking to add staffing at El Paso area ports of entry during those periods where traffic figures historically have climbed for both the Thanksgiving holiday and the Black Friday shopping period,” said El Paso Director of Field Operations Hector Mancha.
“As always we thank the traveling public for their patience during this busy period and for using available technology to expedite their crossing.”
All El Paso ports strongly encourage travelers to apply for their tourist permits online. Travelers 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 seven days of their application to be interviewed by a CBP officer, submit biometric fingerscans and a photo is taken. For more information about filing an I-94 electronically, please consult the following link.
CBP officials also encourage travelers to obtain and utilize radio-frequency identification technology (RFID)-equipped travel documents such as U.S. passport cards and the newer versions (i.e. 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. CBP encourages travelers to obtain RFID entry documents to use Ready Lanes and enroll in trusted traveler programs this holiday weekend and at all times.
Members of the traveling public can monitor Border Wait Times via this link or also obtain the BWT app on their smartphone via Apple App Store and Google Play (CBP BWT) so that they can observe the wait times and make an informed decision on which bridge to use. These wait times are updated on an hourly basis.
The city of El Paso also has cameras at three of the city’s four border crossing which the public can also use as a resource. Those planning to travel east from El Paso may want to consider using the Marcelino Serna/Tornillo crossing while those heading west may explore options at the Santa Teresa port.
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 at the following link.
This includes the recently announced prohibition on the importation of peppers and tomatoes from Mexico.
Leadership at the El Paso port expects to open as many lanes as possible to facilitate the increase in border crossers and those seeking I-94 documents. The port is also working with the city of El Paso to identify peak periods where the city will support additional inspectional resource allocation.
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 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.
The Columbus port expects to have 2-3 lanes open during critical periods and will add staffing at the remote Antelope Wells crossing to expedite the issuance of I-94 documents.