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Extension of 25-Mile Limit at Select Arizona Ports-of-Entry
[64 FR 68616] [FR65-99]
FEDERAL REGISTER CITE:
64 FR 68616
DATE OF PUBLICATION:
December 8, 1999
BILLING CODE: 4410-10
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Immigration and Naturalization Service
8 CFR Part 235
[INS No. 2026-99]
Extension of 25-Mile Limit at Select Arizona Ports-of-Entry
Immigration and Naturalization Service, Justice.
Interim rule with request for comments.
This rule amends the Immigration and Naturalization Service (Service) regulations to extend the distance Mexican nationals may travel into the United States without obtaining additional immigration documentation at selected ports-of-entry (POEs) along the United States and Mexico border. The selected POEs are located in the State of Arizona at Sasabe, Nogales, Mariposa, Douglas, and Naco. Once visitors to Arizona meet the inspection requirements of legal entry to the United States, they will be able to tr
avel within the 75-mile border region of Arizona. This rule is intended to promote commerce in the southern Arizona border area while still ensuring that sufficient safeguards are in place to prevent illegal entry to the United States.
: This interim rule is effective December 8, 1999.
: Written comments must be submitted on or before February 7, 2000.
Please submit written comments, in triplicate, to the
Director, Policy Directives and Instructions Branch, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 425 I Street, NW., Room 5307, Washington, DC 20536. To ensure proper handling, please reference INS No. 2026-99 on your correspondence. Comments are available for public inspection at the above address by calling (202) 514-3048 to arrange for an appointment.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Paul M. Morris, Assistant Chief
Inspector, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 425 I Street, NW., Room 4064, Washington, DC 20536, telephone (202) 305-2970.
What Change Is Being Made by This Rule?
This interim rule amends 8 CFR 235.1(f)(1) by extending from 25 to 75 miles the distance Mexican nationals who meet the inspection requirements for legal entry at selected POEs in Arizona along the United States and Mexico border may travel into the United States without obtaining additional immigration documentation. The selected POEs are located in the State of Arizona at Sasabe, Nogales, Mariposa, Douglas, and Naco. Mexican nationals admitted at these POEs may travel in Arizona within 75 miles of the bo
rder without obtaining Form I-94, Arrival and Departure Record, and may remain in the United States for a period not to exceed 72 hours. Mexican nationals admitted as nonimmigrant visitors at the Mexican border POEs in the State of Arizona at Sasabe, Nogales, Mariposa, Naco or Douglas for a period not to exceed 72 hours, may also travel within 25 miles of the border in the State of California, New Mexico and Texas as long as they remain within 25 miles of the border while in those states.
What Are the Current Requirements for Mexican Nationals Entering the United States?
Since 1953, Mexico and the United States have agreed to make special accommodations for Mexican nationals who cross the border into the immediate border area to promote the economic stability of the region. The Service has helped promote border commerce by permitting travel within 25 miles of the boundary for less than 72 hours without additional documentation other than that needed to be admitted to the United States. Frequent Mexican visitors may obtain and use border crossing identification cards (BCCs)
such as the Service-issued Forms I-186 or I-586, Mexican Nonresident Alien Border Crossing Card, and Form DSP-150, B1/B2 Visa and Border Crossing Card, issued by the Department of State and commonly called the "Laser Visa" (see 8 CFR part 212.6). BCCs allow qualified persons who frequently cross the United States and Mexico border to be admitted to the United States more quickly and without further documentation while still preserving the integrity and security of the admissions process. Current regulation
s also require Mexican nationals who seek to enter the United States for more than 72 hours, and/or to travel farther than 25 miles from the United States and Mexico border to obtain Form I-94.
Why Is the Service Making This Change?
With passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, commerce, travel, and tourism across the United States and Mexico border into neighboring communities have increased the economic interdependence of cities located in the border area.
Currently Sonora, Mexico, and the State of Arizona form one of the fastest growing cross-border regions. However, unlike the other border States, Arizona has no large city within the Service-defined zone of 25 miles. The first large city from the border in central/southeastern Arizona is Tucson which is about 55 air miles from the United States/Mexico border and from 60 to 75 miles away from the five nearest POEs. According to the current regulations at 8 CFR 235.1(f)(1) a Tucson-bound Mexican businessperso
n, tourist, or shopper must acquire additional documentation just to engage in the same routine activities that occur daily at every other major crossing point along the border. These routine legal border crossers have to spend additional time at the POE to obtain a Form I-94 and must pay a fee of $6.
To address concerns from city officials in Tucson, surrounding communities, travelers in southern Arizona, and trade organizations such as the Border Trade Alliance, by this rule the Service will extend the distance limit to 75 miles within Arizona. A businessperson, tourist, or shopper will still be required to meet all the requirements for legal entry into the United States. The city of Tucson estimates that this change in the distance limit will greatly expand commercial activity in the city and in small
er towns between Tucson and the border. The city of Tucson conducted a study indicating that, after implementation of this rule, the commercial gain from Mexican visitors is estimated to reach $56.3
million a year.
How Can Mexican Nationals Travel Beyond the 75-Mile Limit or Stay in the United States for Longer Than 72 Hours?
The change announced in this rule does not apply to a Mexican national who intends to go beyond the 75-mile limit in Arizona or who wishes to stay in the United States for more than 72 hours. In such a case, the Mexican national must obtain a Form I-94 and pay the $6 fee, in accordance with existing requirements.
Does the Service Intend To Expand the 25-Mile Limit at Other United States and Mexico Border POEs?
The Service believes that this regulatory change responds to the unique circumstances of central/southeastern Arizona. There is currently no plan to test this approach elsewhere along the Southwest Border where cross-border commerce appears to occur routinely within the existing 25-mile regulatory limit.
How Will This Rule Affect the Border Patrol and Other Enforcement Operations?
Once this interim rule takes effect, the Service will monitor and evaluate any changes in the patterns of violations of terms of admission that may occur. In addition, the Service shall monitor data on apprehensions of those Mexican BCC holders who do not have an approved Form I-94 and who violate their terms of admission by remaining in the United States for more than 72 hours or who travel beyond the 75 mile limit set by this rule.
What Fiscal Impact Will This Rule Have on the Service?
The Service estimates that this rule will eliminate the need for Mexican nationals to obtain approximately 50,000 Forms I-94 annually, at a cost to them of $6.00 per form. The annual loss of approximately $300,000 in revenue to the Service will be partially offset by the reduction in traffic congestion at the affected POEs, the facilitated entry of a greater percentage of travelers, and the elimination of Service staff time required to issue those Forms I-94.