Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced today the publication of a notice of proposed rulemaking which would extend the border zone up to 55 miles, from the current 25 mile restriction, for Border Crossing Card (BCC) holders in the state of New Mexico. This proposed change would allow BCC holders to travel to the towns of Deming and Las Cruces, N.M., stimulating commerce, trade and tourism activity in the area.
"The proposed extension of the border zone in New Mexico, when finalized, will provide significant economic benefits to many of the smaller communities along the border while maintaining ample safeguards to prevent illegal entry into the United States," said Secretary Napolitano.
The elimination of the need for a Form I-94 for New Mexico BCC holders would also decrease the administrative workload for CBP officers at New Mexico ports of entry, allowing CBP to focus resources on those who may pose a higher risk, improving security and efficiency at land border crossings. The current process to obtain a Form I-94 requires a secondary screening with a CBP officer, which includes an interview, fingerprinting, database queries, and paperwork to confirm legitimate travel.
"Border Crossing Cards make it possible for frequent, low-risk travelers to visit border communities and engage in economic activity. Unfortunately, in New Mexico the existing limit of 25 miles does not give visitors many options. Expanding the travel zone to 55 miles will make it possible for communities like Las Cruces, Lordsburg and Deming to see greater economic benefits from Mexicans traveling into the country to shop, conduct business, and visit family," said New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman, who supports the propose change.
Current DHS regulations state that certain nonimmigrant Mexican nationals presenting a BCC are not required to complete a CBP Form I-94 if they are staying within 25 miles of the border. In 1999, this regulation was amended for the state of Arizona to allow BCC holders to travel up to 75 miles from the border for similar economic stimulations facilitated by increased trade and travel.
For more information, visit www.dhs.gov.