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Brian Luke Community Blogger, WGRZ-TV

Friday, November 26, 2010

CBP in Imperial Valley, Calif. Issues Holiday Season Advisory for Border Travel

Calexico, Calif. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at the Imperial Valley, Calif. area ports of entry are advising travelers to carefully plan cross-border trips during the busy holiday season from thanksgiving through New Years.

The Calexico East port hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 3 a.m. to midnight and Saturdays and Sundays from 6 a.m. to midnight. The Calexico downtown port remains open 24 hours seven days a week. The Andrade border station is open from 6 a.m. to 10 pm., seven days a week.
Travelers planning trips across the border into Mexico are being reminded to make sure they have their proper documents and to anticipate heavy traffic during these seasonal celebrations due to increased traffic by regular commuters and shoppers.

CBP is also offering a number of tips to travelers to expedite the border crossing experience and ensure that they enter the country safely and without incident:
  • Plan your trip and allow extra time for crossing the border. Members of the traveling public should consult the CBP website site to monitor border wait times. ( Wait Times - Airport and Border ) Information is updated hourly and is useful in planning trips and identifying periods of light usage and or shorter waits. Travelers may also monitor wait time information hourly for the Calexico downtown and East border stations by calling (760) 768-2383 and for the Andrade border station by calling (760) 572-0089 ext. 7262 or on your mobile Smartphone by going to. ( Border Wait Times )
  • Avoid peak travel times when at all possible. The heaviest traffic periods typically are between the hours of 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily at area ports.
  • Travelers should prepare for the inspection process before arriving at the inspection booth and should have their crossing documents ready to present to the CBP officer. In addition, individuals should end cellular phone conversations before arriving at the inspection booth.
  • Be prepared to show proof of citizenship and identity to enter the United States. For U.S. citizens, this must include an approved document such as a U.S. passport, U.S. passport card, trusted traveler program card (SENTRI and NEXUS), or an enhanced driver’s license from participating states. Legal Permanent Residents must present their I-551 legal permanent resident card. U.S. travelers 15 years of age and younger can present just a birth certificate. For other travelers, be prepared to present a valid passport with a valid visa or Border Crossing Card/Laser Visa.
  • Travelers should familiarize themselves with the “Know Before You Go” section of the CBP website. ( Know Before You Go ) to avoid fines and penalties associated with the importation of prohibited items. “Know Before You Go” brochures are also available at border ports.
  • Travelers are required to declare all items acquired abroad, even if you bought it in a duty free shop. This merchandise is also subject to U.S. duty fees and other restrictions.
  • Declare all agriculture products such as meats, fruits, vegetables and handcraft wreaths or any other holiday decorations that may have hay or straw as an ingredient. These are not allowed into the U.S. due to possible insects and diseases that could harm the nation’s agricultural industry. A traditional Mexican holiday punch or “Ponche” is shared and enjoyed among many families along the Southwest Border during holiday seasons. However the ingredients used to make it, guavas, Hawthorne apples and sugar cane are all prohibited entry into the U.S.
  • If you have gifts that you are bringing into the U.S., ensure they are unwrapped so they can be properly inspected with out damaging your gift.
  • Do not bring any Cuban-made products into the U.S., no matter where you purchased them.
  • Be aware that many foreign-made medications are not FDA-approved, and you cannot bring them into the U.S. Also, when traveling abroad, bring only the amount of medication you’ll need during your stay.
  • Understand that CBP officers can inspect you and your belongings without a warrant. This may include your luggage, vehicle, and personal searches, and is meant to enforce our laws as well as protect legitimate travelers.
U.S. travelers are urged to apply for approved documents such as the passport card, SENTRI port pass or enhanced driver’s license from participating states, all of which incorporate a Radio Frequency Identification technology. Special RFID antennas are currently installed at San Diego area ports of entry that detect the improved documents before vehicles arrive at the port inspection booths, thus speeding the flow of traffic and reducing border wait times. More information on the application process is available on the CBP website. ( SENTRI ) and ( ) .

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

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