Border-crossers without new visas barred from U.S.

October 02, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — More than 220 prospective border-crossers were barred entry into the U.S. here Monday because they didn't have new "laser visas," said Michael Freeman, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service director of the Andrade and Calexico ports of entry.

More than 85,000 people with valid documents crossed into the United States at the three local ports Monday.

"I see this as the first day. Some people were unaware that they couldn't cross," Freeman said.

Compounding the problem was some of those turned away didn't know their passports were expired.

"On one page (of the passport) there are three different visa classifications. A border-crossing card used to waive the passport requirement but now it doesn't because it is expired," Freeman said.

Since those turned away didn't have the new laser cards, they needed to go to the Mexican passport office and update their passports. Ninety-five percent of those turned away didn't know that.


Freeman broke it down.

"One way to cross is with a border-crossing laser visa card," he said.

Those are the cards border-crossers had to replace before Monday.

If they didn't get the new cards they could have passed through the port had they updated their passports.

"The other way visitors can cross is by presenting a valid passport with a valid visitors' visa," he said.

For a lot of people turned away Monday, "The visitors' visa was a good visa but the passport was expired," Freeman said.

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