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Mayors Want 24-Hour SENTRI Lane at San Luis

2013-07-21 15:28:01

SAN LUIS, Ariz. — A reserved car lane that allows pre-approved travelers to make faster border crossings from Mexico could one day be open 24 hours, the mayor of this city says.

Mayor Gerardo Sanchez says he has had discussions with his counterpart from San Luis Rio Colorado, Son., Leonardo Guillen, as well as U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials about extending the hours of the SENTRI lane at U.S. Port of Entry at San Luis around the clock.

At present, the lane dedicated for U.S.-bounded travelers enrolled in the SENTRI program is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Keeping lane open 24 hours, said Sanchez, “would be something of benefit that is going to help the entire community. I spoke with the mayor of San Luis Rio Colorado and we agreed to work to get this done.”

Sanchez said could be the first port of entry on the border to have a 24-hour SENTRI lane.

SENTRI is the acronym for Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection. Border crossers who have passed background and fingerprint checks by the CBP and who pay a fee to enroll in the SENTRI program are issued radio-frequency ID cards that they slide through card readers in the designated lanes to gain admittance into the United States. They undergo streamlined inspections that reduce their wait times to cross the border by half or more.

Currently, the SENTRI lane crosses the border on the east side of the U.S. Port of Entry at San Luis, while all other traffic is directed to lanes on the west end of the port.

Under a 24-hour schedule, said Sanchez, the eastside SENTRI lane would continue to close at 10 p,m., but motorists enrolled in the expedited crossing program could continue to make their expedited crossings on the westside between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

For that to happen, Mexico must open a corresponding lane on its side of the border to route SENTRI travelers to the after-hour lane on the west end of the port.

“It would be something of little cost, but it would have a huge impact,” Sanchez said. “SENTRI is a good system and it can be modified to accommodate the times and hours for the people’s benefit.”

He offered no timetable for expanding the hours of operation of a SENTRI lane.

Chris Leon, a CBP spokesman at San Luis, confirmed the agency has met with the two mayors.

“For our part, we are always looking ways to expedite (border crossings),” he said. “It is something that is being discussed.”