|Mexican tourists coming for visit|
Tourists will be routinely boating across the Rio Grande for a burro ride and a beer, and Mexican residents crossing over to shop for groceries.
Alan Bersin, U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner, flew here by helicopter Thursday for a briefing on the crossing and to announce a scheduled opening date of April 2012.
Construction on facilities at the crossing, near the park's eastern edge and within sight of the Mexican town of Boquillas del Carmen, will begin this summer.
Across the Rio Grande, residents of Boquillas can only hope their town survives long enough to see the crossing reopened.
It will be an unmanned crossing with a facility where those entering the U.S. will electronically submit their documents to immigration officials at a remote location, Bersin said. The U.S. National Park Service will construct an information center and bathrooms, and the crossing itself will return to the boat crossing it historically has been.
Some locals have raised concerns about security while violence in Mexico brings negative attention to the border, and as if to drive the point home, a Mexican army patrol showed up on the riverbank opposite Bersin while he inspected the crossing site.
This self serve border crossing, which will operate on the honor system, will provide greater convenience for both Mexican and American tourists. One Mexican tourist, Rosita Hernandez told us: "I love coming to USA for shopping. They have wonderful stores that only charge us four times as much as back home in Mexico."
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano thinks this is a great concept, and is a key part in making illegal visitors feel welcome here. "We can trust these undocumented aliens to visit our nation, enjoy the Texas sunshine, then go home," she told us.
"This is a wonderful way for us to improve relations with out neighbors south of the border," she went on to say.
"Many Mexicans feel safer and more secure shopping in the USA, due to rampant violence and crime in Mexico.
She said that while Mexico has a long way to go in combating organized crime and corruption, it has acknowledged the problem and taken some corrective action.
Besides, she said, having a legal rowboat crossing on a remote, narrow, knee-deep segment of the Rio Grande won't affect people or goods coming into the country illegally.
“People who act criminally will act criminally regardless if there's a lawful crossing here,” she said.