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March 23, 2012     Hidalgo County Herald
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6 HIDALGO COUNTY HERALD FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 2012 Express Border Lanes. A 'limited interview' with the Douglas CBP. Port of Entry Man- ager, Victor L. Brabble By DAWN NEWMAN/Rodeo There are two 'fast lanes' open in Calif., two in Ariz., and four in Texas. Across the south- west. in places like Nogales: Ariz., and San Diego, Calif., ex- press traf- fic is enter- lng the U.S. with the magic of radio frequency technol- ogy at about 10 seconds ..Commerce or Crime? per ve- hicle. In fact. the Joint Working Transpor- tation Committee, between U.S., and Mexico. is busy working on projects to plan for and fund more "express-highways' at numerous locations along the border. Both the U.S. and Mexico governments want more busi- ness, international trade, and to promote a system that allows for pre-screened, low-risk a~ad 'trusted' travelers (once enrolled) to participate in FAST, or the Se- cure Electronic Network for Trav- elers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI). Once approved by U.S. govern- ment (State Department), drivers are given quick access to dedi- cated lanes into the U.S. with an official decal for windshields that are automatically scanned. In short, low risk border crossers (or trusted travelers) can move into the U.S. nearly hassle- free. In fact. drivers (and multiple passengers) with a (pre-approved) SENTRI cards can now cross in 10 seconds or less, if traffic lanes aren't that busy. It's estimated that there may up to 10 such express lanes cur- rently open for business. If driv- ers complete the enrollment pro- cess they can mostly breeze by using technology that reads the decal, driver identity, and, those of passengers I with SENTRI cards) who hold them up though the windshield. Though partici- pants must submit to a thorough background check (against law enforcement databases), it is be- coming mbre common to see driv- ers (commercial and private) whiz through dedicated lanes. Aceording to Victor Brabble. SW Border Joint Information Center, U.S. Customs and Border Protection. (CBP) agencies can- not release exact detection or se- curity measures in place for law- enforcement reasons. But he can tell you that Arizona has over 38,000 people enrolled in the program. In 2011. Arizona-based POE's (in Negates and in San Luis) facilitated the travel of more than 353,000 commercial trucks. 11.800 buses and at least 6,646,111 personal vehicles. He explains that the Depart- officially be released to john q. public. At the Greater Nogales Port Authority, they report over 277.000 truck crossings, 2.99 million passenger cars, and 4 mil- lion pedestrians who crossed over FY 2009-10 not to mention, 11,000 buses, 640 trains, and about 12.12 million people in total. But you might ask how do agencies trace exact numbers? According to Brabble, the POE procedures "can be random, based on intelligence or trends. He adds, that agents are well-trained on subject matter and they do have experts on hidden compart- ments; and fraud detection. In general. CBP uses "non- intrusive'methods and a mix of narcotic-sniffing canines, x-ray machines, and human-intelli- gence filtering techniques. They generally ask quesnons, if they have any suspicion about the driver, car or passengers - and can ask owners (under SENTRI agree- ments) to "open their trunks' for a secondary inspection. The SENTRI express lane system uses a specific radio frequency (as- signed to th~ individual car and driver). The scanning program, tied to law-enforcement/security data-bases are becoming one of several methods used for traffic into the U.S. SENTRI requires drivers to post their decal, display their SENTI card through the window and can 'fan out multiple cards' for passengers riding in their ve- hicle'. In short, it's a computer- saavy program that quickly scans, reads and displays multiple data information for reviewing Port of Entry screeners. Any passenger, age 16. or older is required to go through the SENTRI enrollment process. If people want details on how the enrollment program works, (SENTRI. VISA's. border cross cards), Brabble points you to a Department of State website http://travel.state.gov/visa/visa. For efficiency, the State De- partment offers a "Global Online" application. At their site, you can file your paperwork, set up an in- terview, pay the posted 'fast lane' (SENTRI) fee about $42.50 per person) which covers your photo taken by U.S. officials. If all goes well (that is. enrollees don't have penalties on file. violations, con- ment of State (VISA's) and CBP victions or any pending law en- agencies (SENTRI, FAST) are part forcement investigations) you'll of a current government strategy be considered for the pass and that puts certain limits on just decal. what information or statistics can The State Department (VISA) website explains that SENTRI, and FAST serves stu- dents who want to attend classes in the U.S.. business travelers, as well as people who are in(crested in tourism, pleasure visits with relatives or friends or even shop- ping. The only people who are generally turned away from enroll- ment are those that have con- victions, penalties, violations or pend- ing law enforce- ment ac- tions. Mean- while. SENTRI concerns .have sur- faced in news reports about po- tential 'security holes' in the fast- card process and in the 'trusted traveler' system -- that may not be completely trustworthy. While the Douglas POE could not offer an in-person in- terview or answer specific ques- tions about detection and the methods used to manage the large numbers of people (both pedestrian and vehicle traffic) passing into the U.S. - 'secu- rity 'sensitive' in nature. Some might ask. who is flashing those multiple SENTRI cards behind the steering wheel of cars and trucks these days? Can Port of Entry personnel fully capture all the data that streams through on their computer screen? Is it possible to collect all SENTRI card and decal infor- mation and match it up with computer-data in 10 seconds or more? Who and what baggage might be traveling within the thousands of vehicles that dis- perse into the U.S. interstates on any given day? While some CBP border agents are carefully tracking foot-prints in the dusty back roads of the Southwest, who might be breezing through with a radio-frequency card these days? Editor's Note: The U.S. State Department actually reviews and issues the VISAs (not the CBP) or Home- land Security Next Week: Part H - The story of one 'trusted traveler' who claimed to be used as an inno- cent drug smuggling mule with a SENTRI card and hundreds of others who are caught doing crime in the "fast lanes' that con- tinue to be built throughout the Southwest (California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico...in both Nogales and San Luis). Week Inspiration Come help us raise money for the reopening of the Historic Ghost Town that so man), of us have come to love. Treasures Galore--Something for Everyone! March 30-31, 2012 Exit 3 Interstate 10 Vendor spaces available. Free Parking! Call 575-542-9749 or cmail steinsghosttown:~gmail.com tbr more information. PURE rl lower interest to help rural homeowners By TERRY BRUNNER/USDA Rural Development State Direc- tor Housing plays a key role in New Mexico's economy. And while recent signs point to an improving national outlook. economists generally agree that a healthy and strong housing market is vital to sustaining the current economic recovery. This is why the Obama ad- ministration is working to help our state and others that have been hit hard by the housing downturn. Last month, Agriculture Sec- retary Tom Vilsack announced a pilot program here in New Mexico and 18 other states to help rural homeowners refinance their current loans to lower their monthly mortgage payments and get lower interest rates. This initiative is part of Presi- dent Obama's ongoing efforts to help middle-class families, create jobs and strengthen the economy. It will save homeowners time and money and help ensure that hardworking, creditworthy bor- rowers protect their investment and remain in their homes. Since I became USDA Rural Develop- ment State Director, I have worked hard to ensure rural residents in our state continue to be able to enjoy the many benefits of homeownership. Helping homeowners lower New Mexican for payer Advocacy Panel IRS Submitted by WILLIAM BRUNSONIIRS, Phoenix The Internal Revenue Ser- vice seeks civ.ic-minded volun- teers to serve on the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP), a fed- eral advisory committee that lis- tens to taxpayers, identifies key issues, and makes recommenda- tions for improving IRS service. "TAP members give the IRS insights from every corner of our nation, helping the agency in its continuous effort to improve tax administration,'" said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. The TAP provides aforum for taxpayers from all 50 states. the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to raise concerns about IRS service and offer sug- gestions for improvement. The TAP reports annually to the Sec- retary of the Treasury, the IRS Commissioner and the National Taxpayer Advocate. The Office of the Taxpayer Advocate, an independent organization within the IRS, provides oversight of the TAP. "In trying to comply with an increasingly complex tax sys- tem, taxpayers may find they need different services than the IRS is currently provilding," said Nina E. Olson, National Tax- payer Advocate. "The TAP is vital because it provides the IRS with the taxpayers' perspective as well as recommendations for improvement. This will help the IRS deliver the best possible serwce to assist taxpayers in meeting their tax obligations." To be a member of the TAP you must be a U.S. citi- zen, current with your federal tax obligations, able to commit 300 to 500 hours during the year and able" to pass an FBI crimi- nal background, check. New TAP members will serve a three-year term starting in De- cember 2012. If you're chosen as an alternate member, you'll be considered to fill any vacan- cies that open in your area dur- ing the next three years. Maine, Missouri, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The panel needs alternates for Delaware, Hawaii, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Utah arid Wyo- ming. Applications for the TAP will be accepted through April 27. 2012. Applications are available online at www.improveirs.org. For additional information about the TAP or the application pro- cess, please call toll-free 888-912- 1227. their monthly mortgage pay- ments will pump much-needed money into families' budgets and into the economy. Homeowners with more money in their pock- ets are likely to spend these dol- lars in the local economy. This means more money will be spent right here in New Mexico. In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama unveiled a Blueprint for an America Built to Last that calls for actions to help borrowers and to support a housing market re- covery. While the government cannot fix the housing market on its own, the President and I be- lieve that respOnsible homeowners should not have to sit and wait for the market to hit bottom to get relief. Measures like the one underway here in New Mexico will allow homeowners to save thousands of dollars by refinancing at today's low interest rates. Participatin g homeowners must have mortgages made or guaranteed by the Department of Agriculture. They do not need new home appraisals or credit re- ports, but they must be current on their mortgage payments for the previous 12 months. This pilot program is good for homeowners, good for the housing market, and good for our state. To learn more about this pro- gram, please contact the state Rural Development office at 505- 761-4940. parent n in New M Submitted by CYFD Becoming a foster or adop- tive parent can make a huge dif- ference in the life of a child. Join us for an information meeting to be held this month of February in your area. Please call Ronny Diaz. CYFD Foster & Adoptive Parent Recruiter at (575) 434-5950 ext. 121 for more information or visit us on the web at www.cyfd.org. Se Habla Espanol Foster or Adopt a New Mexico Youth Name: Brianna, age 11, grade 4 & Imunique, age 13, grade 7 Brianna and Imunique are two special sisters looking ,for one special adoptive fam- ily! Younger sister Brianna is a creative, ar- tistically tal- ented child who is curious about the world' and likes to learn new things. When she is not drawing, s.ing- ing, dancing or listening to mu- Brianna & Imunique classroom. Overall she is an out- going child, but she can be shy around people she does not know. Imunique is outgoing and friendly and, like her younger sis- ter, she loves to sing, dance and do arts and crafts. She enjoys school and would like to go to college one day to learn to be a teacher, singer, or dancer, al- though right now her favorite subject is science. Like many kids, she does not like home- work. and though she has the motivation to be successful, she needs help to develop the tools to succeed. Imunique is known for being fun and making friends easily, but she is also a very thoughtful and loyal child. She gets along well with both older and younger chil- dren, and en- joys learning about differ- ent cultures and people. In her free t i m e Imunique likes to play board games, ride her bike, hike and take walks. She also en- joys helping her foster family The TAP is seeking members sic, Brianna likes to play with her cook. Imunique and Brianna in New Mexico and the follow- dolls or dress up. She loves be- need a committed family who can t ing locations: Alabama, Arkan- ing silly and laughing with her be firm but loving, structured but ! sas, Connecticut, District of Co- sister and her friends. Brianna patient, and who will help them lumbia. Georgia, Kentucky, likes school and does well with a thrive together and as individu- set routine and a highly structured als. WANT TO KNOW WHAT ALL THE FUN Is ABOUT? Call Melanie, Consultant (520) 429-4419 True friends are hard to find and we deeply your friendship. C&G COMPUTER SERVICES Buitd, Install, Maintain and Repair DELL * HP * WI-POWER WE CR| MEET RLL Ill VllllR CI1MPIITER |EEIIS. 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