CBP approves unmanned pedestrian border crossing in Texas

A new computerized border crossing in Big Bend National Park, Texas, will accommodate only pedestrian traffic, not the cargo and commercial traffic originally envisioned.
To pass through the unmanned Boquillas crossing, a Class B port of entry, pedestrians will have to present identification and border-crossing documents to be electronically scanned, according to a notice published Dec. 28 in the Federal Register. Customs and Border Protection anticipates the crossing will primarily be used by U.S. park visitors taking a ferry across the Rio Grande to visit the Mexican village of Boquillas.
The CBP proposal drew criticism that remote technology would not provide adequate security to keep illegal immigrants, terrorists, criminals and contraband out of the country. But CBP said its agents in El Paso will process and clear pedestrians through electronic connections to kiosks at the crossing.
Security measures will include a 24-hour surveillance camera monitored at CBP's Combined Area Security Center and at the Border Patrol station in Alpine, Texas. Border Patrol agents within Big Bend National Park will be available to perform physical inspections as needed, according to the notice. Crossings will be allowed only during daylight.
Additionally, the joint-use facility being built by CBP and the National Park Service will function as a visitor center manned by Park Service personnel. CBP and the Park Service also are building new residences in the park to house additional Border Patrol agents to permanently work and live in the park.
The nearest legal border crossing to the Boquillas crossing is at Presidio, Texas, more than 120 miles west by road on the U.S. side. The closest legal crossing to the east is at Del Rio, Texas, more than 260 miles by U.S. road.
A previous crossing at Boquillas was closed in 2002.

Julie Bird is a freelance reporter.

For more:
- read the Federal Register notice
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