TC - Spring break revelers need right papers to re-enter U.S.
Spring break revelers need right papers to re-enter U.S.
Homeland Security officials advise college students off to Rocky Point for spring break by land to be prepared with the proper documents for re-entering the United States.
The rules are different this year, said Brian Levin, spokesman in Tucson for the Department of Homeland Security and head of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol's Office of Field Operations for southern Arizona.
Travelers 19 or older will be asked at the port for two documents: a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, and proof of citizenship. That can be a U.S. passport or a birth certificate.
Anyone 18 and younger must present one document to show citizenship: a birth certificate, or a notarized copy, or passport. Those without the proper documentation face further questioning and investigation to determine their citizenship status.
Spring break is March 15-23 for the University of Arizona, March 9-16 for Arizona State University and March 17-23 for Pima Community College.
More than 50,000 students from colleges in Arizona, Colorado and California are expected to pass through the Lukeville Port of Entry to Mexico's beaches for spring break.
Rocky Point, also known as Puerto Peñasco, is about four and a half hours drive from Tucson and a popular destination for students.
The drinking age in Mexico is 18 and marketing to students by Rocky Point hotels and travel agencies is aggressive.
The U.S. land port south of Ajo is open from 6 a.m. to midnight.
"We expect to see an increase in the amount of traffic during spring break," said Rick Gill, port director at Lukeville, in a news release.
Levin advised student travelers to plan their re-entry into Arizona outside of peak times, which are noon to 7 p.m. on Sundays and Mondays.
Otherwise it can take hours for backed-up traffic to get through the port.
Gill said port officials are asking all spring break travelers to "be prepared before coming to the port."
That means able to comply with new U.S. documentation requirements for Americans and Canadians that took effect Jan. 31.
The changes are part of a ramping up of security at American ports of entry since the terror attacks in 2001.
In previous years, students returning from Mexico's resort towns could simply make an "oral declaration" of citizenship to U.S. Customs officials, but that is no longer permitted.
Levin said students should have documents ready before approaching a federal officer at the U.S. port, answer all questions truthfully and declare all items purchased outside the United States.
Although its primary mission is anti-terrorism, the agency's border agents will screen travelers at the port for narcotics, agricultural products banned from importation and for violations of trade laws.
Purchase of "club" drugs, pain medication and sedatives in Mexico is discouraged by the U.S. State Department, which said up to 25 percent of medications sold in Mexico may be counterfeit.
A 25-page list of controlled medications that cannot be imported into the U.S. is available on the State Department's Web site.
The list includes anti-anxiety drugs, opiate pain medications and the "date rape" drug Rohypnol, a sedative illegal in the U.S. but legal in Mexico.
The State Department also warns students:
• While traveling in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws.
• Americans can be held by Mexican police for up to two days without charges being filed.
• Avoid using illicit drugs, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and other reckless behavior.
The State Department said Americans should register their travel plans, indicating where and how they can be reached.
For more on that, go to https://travelregistration.state.gov .