More than a decade after it was closed in the wake of the September 1, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Port of Boquillas border crossing at Big Bend National Park is back in business.
The crossing there across the Rio Grande River long was used by residents of Boquillas, Mexico, who would come to the park to trade handmade goods with visitors at Rio Grande Village and to buy food. It also offered park visitors a place to safely cross into Mexico. When the crossing was closed in May 2002 by the Department of Homeland Security, it impacted this mixing of cultures in the park, as the nearest Port of Entry was more than 100 miles away.
The Port of Boquillas opened on April 10th. This project connecting the park and the Maderas del Carmen Protected Area in Coahuila, Mexico, brings the spirit of bi-national cooperation generated in the 1930s to fruition. Visitors from both sides of the border, with proper documentation, will have the ability to enter both countries during daylight hours.
The official crossing will provide access to the town of Boquillas, Mexico, as well as the protected areas of Maderas del Carmen, Ocampo, and Cañon de Santa Elena, filling a void in a long stretch of border between Presidio and Del Rio where there currently is no port of entry.
This bi-national cooperation and cultural exchange were ideas highlighted during the formation of Big Bend National Park, and were, in part, a reality prior to September of 2001. Prior to that time, visitors to the park and local residents of Mexico availed themselves of the greater freedom along the border, rowing across the river for lunch, shopping, international education programs, or Good Neighbor Day celebrations.
Crossing the river at Boquillas will remain a pedestrian affair, limited to walking across the Rio Grande or being ferried by boat. No vehicles will be allowed to cross and there will be no commercial importation of products. Travelers may only bring back items that do not require collection of duties and there are limitations on some agriculture products.
Travelers entering the United States will do so in a National Park Service interagency facility, which will be staffed by Park Service personnel during the port’s hours of operation. Arriving visitors will use kiosks to transmit travel document and identification information to Customs and Border Protection staff. Valid border-crossing documents, such a passport or border card, will be required. Travelers will then be interviewed by a CBP officer via a remote link.
Security for the port and the surrounding area will be provided by National Park Service rangers and U.S. Border Patrol agents. National Park Service personnel will be on hand in the interagency facility during all hours of port operation.
The decision to open the hi-tech border crossing was based on extensive CBP analysis, consultation with Mexico, and is part of an ongoing commitment to ensure that the Department of Homeland Security continues to take steps to enhance security along U.S. borders.