I believe this subject deserves its own 'topic'. There are many changes occurring on the Southern Border relating to checkpoint crossing - both North and South bound directions. So, here is the place to post information, both old and new.
1. Border Wait Times are located at this link: http://apps.cbp.gov/bwt/
2. You can also download a desktop RSS reader as well as on mobile electronic devices such as smartphones. This will give you a live feed for a selected border crossing point
. The links to these features are available on the top right corner of the BWT website, the link posted in # 1 above.Construction Begins on Unmanned Checkpoint at Texas-Mexico Border
The Wall Street Journal Published October 24, 2011
Construction will begin Monday on an unmanned border checkpoint at Big Bend, a national park in a remote corner of southwest Texas, even as the federal government has been adding agents to patrol other parts of the U.S.-Mexico boundary.
U.S. officials say the crossing, the first of its kind on the southern border, is a concession to trade and tourism in an isolated stretch of hard country where visitors now have to travel a long distance to legally get across the Rio Grande and enter the U.S.
U.S. Customs agents stationed miles away will remotely scan travelers' documents, allowing visitors to pass easily between Big Bend and the Mexican village of Boquillas del Carmen, which has fallen on hard times as beefed-up border security has cut down on U.S. visitors.
Under the plan, surveillance cameras will monitor crossers at the entry point, which will be part of a visitors' center on the U.S. side. Park staff would be available to answer questions, and Border Patrol agents in the area would be on call to intervene if someone tries to skirt the system.
"It's one of the best things that's happened down here in the last several years," said Doug Lant of Terlingua, Texas, a small community just outside the national park. He said he was looking forward to frequenting Boquillas again to reconnect with a friend who ran the burro concession across the river.
The number of illegal immigrants apprehended by border agents in the sector that includes Big Bend and stretches all the way to Oklahoma has fallen in recent years from more than 12,000 in 2001 to about 5,300 last year. That was the lowest number of apprehensions in any sector of the Southern border, where almost 450,000 illegal crossers were intercepted in 2010, according to Border Patrol statistics.
The unmanned checkpoint is expected to open in the spring, although U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say plans are subject to change.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/10/24/co ... z1bitgdkUi Biometric Security Measures Coming to Southern Border Crossing
By: Corey McKenna on September 29, 2011
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Texas’ Paso Del Norte border crossing have begun work on a biometric-based system that’s expected to increase national security. CBP officers have been collecting digital fingerprints from frequent travelers for the past two weeks.
In November, the agency will pilot a new system in which frequent travelers will be able to scan their fingerprints and travel documents enabled with radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology — which transfers data from an electronic tag using radio waves — as they line up at the border checkpoint. When travelers reach the front of the line, a query of several law enforcement databases presents the officer at the inspection station with information on the person’s identity.
“We anticipate there are going to be improvements both for enforcement and for expediting the entry,” said Roger Maier, a CBP spokesman.
The pilot, which Maier said does not have a predetermined length, would allow officials to collect information on the impact of the biometrics and RFID-enabled travel documents on security and time to clear the inspection station. This pilot, the only one of its kind scheduled on the southern border, will inform future enhancements to security and travel at other U.S.-Mexico border crossings.
The El Paso CBP officers see imposters and other immigration violations on a daily basis, Maier said. “With the additional biometrics associated with these documents that will help reduce the frequency and prevalence of that.”
During the pilot, three pedestrian lanes will be equipped with a gated system in which travelers will scan their RFID-enabled document and fingerprints before they approach the inspection station.
More than 3,400 people have enrolled since biometric collection began at the crossing on Sept. 12. “It will be possible for a traveler to get into the line and arrive at primary inspection without having biometrics on file,” Maier wrote in an e-mail. “But that traveler will be referred to [a] secondary inspection area where we will obtain the biometrics.”
Non-U.S. citizens who have an older border crossing card or legal permanent resident card (issued before 2008) or those who have not applied for an I-94 travel permit in the last three years will need to submit their biometrics to participate in this pilot project. If a traveler has been identified as having biometrics on file, he or she will have already been added to the database and there will be no need for the traveler to resubmit the data.
Attempted border crossing by people who obtain legitimate travel documents by posing as someone else is a big problem, Maier said. “They’ll use makeup and color someone’s hair and dress them in the style similar to what’s on the authentic document to try to fool our officers,” he said. “These documents, when they’re linked with a fingerprint … can’t be faked.”
Maier estimated that 14,000-16,000 pedestrians cross the bridge daily, and wait times can vary from 15 minutes to an hour.
Currently travelers seeking to cross the border line up based on the kind of travel documentation they have — passports, passport cards, CBP Trusted Traveler documents, border crossing cards or legal permanent resident cards. When travelers reach the front of the line, they hand the document to the officer who scans it to see if the person has been flagged in a number of databases. While waiting for the result of the scan, the officer questions the traveler to determine whether that person may be allowed into the U.S.
Each interview is a little different based on the questions the officer asks the traveler, but wait times can be significant. “Especially when you’ve got 14,000-16,000 people a day, sometimes it can back up to 30 minutes or 60 minutes or longer to cross,” he said. “We would anticipate that there would be a time savings, but it would be hard to say without running the test.”Despite the long waits, pedestrians ignore SENTRI
New study points out problems at SanYsidro crossing
SAN YSIDRO- Fifty-three-year-old Mario Parra crosses the border every day to go to work, sometimes standing as long as two hours to enter the United States. Even so, he has not applied for a SENTRI pass that cut that wait to virtually nothing.
The businessman said he does not have the time to apply for the pass.
“They ask for too many papers, there are too many appointments,” he said Thursday morning moments after crossing the border. “Honestly, I don’t have the time.”
He is part of the nearly 96 per cent of pedestrian border crossers who could take advantage of the SENTRI program, according to a study released Thursday by the South County Economic Development Council.
The problem is that these crossers are not aware that they qualify, think they don’t need the program, or are not willing to pay the $122.25 application fee, according to the study.
It is based on interviews with 5,861 people conducted at the pedestrian crossing from July 2010 to July 2011, from 6 in the morning until 6 at night.
Of those interviewed, 44 per cent were Mexican citizens, 38 per cent U.S. citizens, 14 percent legal U.S. residents, 2 per cent declined to answer, 1 per cent had dual U.S.-Mexican citizenship, and 1 percent had a status listed as “other.”
The three main reasons for crossing the border were to go shopping (31 per cent), to work (23 per cent), and visit family members (20 per cent).
Currently, the wait at the pedestrian crossing fluctuates between 60 to 90 minutes, although on peak days and hours it can stretch to three or more hours.
SENTRI pass-holders cross in less than five minutes.