El Paso, Texas – On November 10, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced a series of upgrades at the El Paso port of entry designed to enhance overall security and speed the entry process. All the upgrades build upon the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative “Improving to Keep You Moving” theme.
CBP leaders, municipal officials, and invited guests from Mexico were on hand to learn about the new efficiency initiatives upgrades at an event led by CBP Deputy Commissioner David Aguilar on November 10.
“It is our job at CBP to see that this flow of traffic enters the U.S. in a safe and orderly fashion in compliance with a myriad of U.S. laws,” said CBP Deputy Commissioner David Aguilar. “We believe through improvements to our operations, and with help from the traveling public, we can meet the highest calling of our security mission while accommodating and expediting traffic.”
One of the most notable initiatives announced was a new pedestrian processing system at the PDN crossing. The system will use Radio Frequency Identification technology and biometric data to expedite the entry process. The three existing pedestrian lanes will be used during the system pilot. These lanes will be equipped with a transit-style gate system in which a traveler’s RFID-enabled, WHTI-compliant document will be scanned and read before the traveler even approaches the inspection booth. This allows the CBP officer to receive the traveler’s information in advance, allowing for faster processing while also enhancing overall security. The system is being tested at PDN only and the results will help CBP determine if the systems merits widespread and national usage.
Another upgrade announcement involved the addition of Ready Lanes at PDN and BOTA to supplement the already operational lane at Ysleta. Ready Lanes are designed to speed up processing for travelers that possess RFID-enabled cards such as the U.S. passport card, Trusted Traveler cards (SENTRI/NEXUS/FAST/Global Entry) and the newer versions of the resident alien and laser visa/border crossing cards. All travelers in the vehicle over 16 years of age must possess an RFID-enabled card to use the lane; however, each traveler can possess a different type of card.
CBP officers need real-time access to a traveler’s biographic and biometric data to make a rapid and thorough admissibility decision. The RFID chip in these cards can be read as the vehicle queues for inspection at the border. When a vehicle enters the RFID reader’s vicinity, the tag signals the secure database so traveler information is displayed to the CBP officer as the vehicle pulls up to the inspection booth. The CBP officer can look at the results quickly and focus on the individuals in the vehicle rather than scan documents, which improves officer safety and allows for faster processing.
Ready Lanes have proven effective at improving throughput by 20-25 percent which translates into shorter overall crossing times benefiting travelers.
There are 11 ports with Ready Lanes operational along the Southwest border; PDN and BOTA are the most recent locations and the second and third in El Paso. They will be operational between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily and supplement the Ready Lanes that were added to the Ysleta crossing in December 2010.
New LED signage installations above the primary inspection booths at the PDN and the Ysleta crossings were also highlighted by Deputy Commissioner Aguilar. The easy to see and read signage can be changed at a moment’s notice and provides valuable instructions and information to travelers as they approach the primary inspection station. The information is displayed in English or Spanish and advises travelers if lanes are operational, what type of processing is occurring at the lane, and other important information.
CBP is in the process of installing a shortwave AM radio transmitter at the Ysleta crossing. This pilot project is designed to educate border crossers and provide up to date information. Signage will be installed at the port advising travelers to tune their car radio to a specific frequency which will provide messages in English and Spanish. The system is being tested in El Paso and Laredo and is expected to be operational before the end of the year.
CBP continues to strongly encourage travelers to obtain RFID-enabled travel documents to expedite their entry to the U.S. and to help make the border crossing process more efficient. To use both the new pedestrian gate system and the Ready Lanes, travelers must have one of the RFID-enabled secure travel documents.
WHTI is the joint Department of State-Department of Homeland Security plan that implemented a key 9/11 Commission recommendation to establish document requirements for travelers entering the United States who were previously exempt, including citizens of the U.S., Canada and Bermuda.
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.