New automated border crossing coming to the Southwest

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by Angela Kocherga

azfamily.com

Posted on January 27, 2012 at 11:56 AM

Updated Friday, Jan 27 at 12:39 PM

Map: Big Bend National Park

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BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, Texas -- A new border crossing in far west Texas will rely on technology to screen people traveling back and forth to Mexico. 
 
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers viewing documents won’t be on site but stationed miles away at another location. 
 
The automated border crossing is at the port of entry inside Big Bend National Park.
 
Visitors to Big Bend National Park are attracted by the beauty and the border. 
 
The Rio Grande divides the United States and Mexico here. Generations of park visitors used to make day trips across the river to the little village Boquillas. 
 
That boat ride across the border will begin again this spring when the federal government reopens a border crossing in the isolated national park.
 
According to David Elkowitz, a spokesperson for Big Bend National Park. It is considered a benefit both for tourists and the scientific community to be able to cross here.”
 
The customs officers viewing those documents won’t be stationed on this stretch of border but rather miles away. The automated border crossing is a first for the southwest border. 
 
The new visitor center serving the border crossing is under construction now. When it’s done, that’s where tourists returning from Mexico and visitors from Mexico will scan their documents.
 
Park staff will run the visitors center but if there are any immigration problems border patrol agents in the park can respond. There are 700 agents in the region. 
 
After September 11th the federal government shut down the old informal port of entry here and that forced people to make a 3 hour drive one way to the nearest legal crossing point.
 
That’s made life hard for some people who live in Boquillas just across from Big Bend National Park. Cut off from tourists, it’s become virtual ghost town.
 
A few people survive by sneaking back and forth across the border to display their handicrafts on boulders along with a coffee can for cash.
 
There are already a few automated crossings on the Canadian border.
 
The first one in the southwest is scheduled to open in April but the exact date has not been announced. The U.S. Border Patrol has cameras set up in that area along the Rio Grande to monitor the crossing. 

 

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