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New lane promises shorter border waits for travelers

New lane promises shorter border waits for travelers

CREATED Apr 7, 2011

Reporter: Sergio Avila
Web Producer: Layla Tang

NOGALES, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - When waiting in those long border lines sometimes drivers may feel like waving a magic wand to speed things up. Now, some border crossers will be able to wave their passport cards and make that happen. On Monday the Deconcini Port of Entry will open up a new lane expected to speed up the inspection process.

The lane will only accept travelers who have either a passport card, SENTRI pass, permanent resident card, or border crossing card issued after April 2009.  These cards contain a special chip that can be read by radio frequency technology.  The traveler's information will automatically pop up on a screen seen by a Customs and Border Protection agent.  In order for a car to use the new ready lane, every adult passenger over the age of 16 must have an approved travel card.

Officer Juan Osorio told KGUN9 News the new lane doesn't require an application from them, but people do need to apply for the specified cards.  Most American citizens can apply for the passport card at local post offices.

So how much time will the new lane save?

"The time that was reported to have been saved-- this program was the pilot program in El Paso, Progreso and Del Rio-- it shaved off approximately 15 seconds per vehicle," Osorio said.

Fifteen seconds may not seem like a lot of time, but seconds add up.  If there are 50 cars in line waiting to cross the border, it could save a total of about 15 minutes.  Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino feels that's extra time people could be spending in his city.

"To Nogales it's very important because people who come across usually come to shop in Nogales. They come to visit, to shop and not only Tucson but the whole region," Garino said.

It's all part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative that's been implemented to streamline entry into the country. Osorio tells 9 On Your Side that travelers without these cards can bog down inspections.

"When you don't have a WHTI document. The officer has to literally type the information into the system and that takes time," Osorio said.

The new lane will open on Monday and will be manned from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.  Right now, CBP doesn't know how many people might take advantage of the lane, but they said a large number of travelers already have the required cards.