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DHS Proposes “Expanded Border” in New Mexico

Posted: Aug 10, 2012


In an era when border travel has become increasingly problematic, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now proposing to expand the geographic area Mexican nationals can travel within the state of New Mexico.

Invoking its rule-making authority, the DHS proposed August 9 an expansion of the geographic limit in New Mexico for holders of a Border Crossing Card, or other proper documentation besides a CBP Form 1-94, from the current 25 miles north of the border to 55 miles.

“This change is intended to promote commerce and tourism in southern New Mexico while still ensuring that sufficient safeguards are in place to prevent illegal entry to the U.S.,” the DHS stated in its notice of proposed rule-making.

Dating back to a system first put in place in1953, the modern-day Border Crossing Card allows Mexican nationals to travel within certain geographic boundaries for up to 30 days. In 1999, the old Immigration and Naturalization Service expanded the geographic limit to 75 miles in Arizona but kept the 25 mile-limit for New Mexico, Texas and California. Currently, Mexican nationals can travel to Tucson for shopping and other purposes.

According to the DHS, applicants for the Border Crossing Card and other appropriate travel documents are vetted by the department's personnel and/or staff from the Department of State.

From San Diego to Brownsville, Mexican consumers constitute a significant and often indispensable source of income for U.S. border businesses.

Until now, New Mexico has been at a formal disadvantage in the border commerce game.

In proposing the extension of the border zone, the DHS specifically mentioned the high poverty rates in the New Mexico border counties of Hidalgo, Luna and Dona Ana, and the benefits greater Mexican tourism and consumer spending could bring to local economies.

For instance, a 55-mile limit would allow greater numbers of Mexican nationals to legally visit Las Cruces, where a shopping mall, musical and cultural performances, fiestas and New Mexico State University are possible destinations of interest.

The DHS is seeking public input on its New Mexico border zone proposal. Interested persons have until October 9 to comment in writing.




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