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Border crossing operates on honor system, Border Patrol hundreds of miles away

Federal officials estimate the Boquillas crossing located in the Big Bend National Park will accommodate 20,000 visitors a year.

The Obama administration is set to reopen a crossing station at the Texas and Mexico border that was closed after the September 11 terrorist attack for security concerns, yet is newly constructed to be monitored by customs and border officers stationed hundreds of miles away.

Federal officials estimate the Boquillas crossing located in the Big Bend National Park will accommodate 20,000 visitors a year, whose entry into the U.S. will by monitored by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers 300 miles away in El Paso through surveillance cameras that will observe kiosks where identification cards are scanned for access.

“Remote technology would assist CBP in maintaining security and verifying the identity of those entering the United States, while also ensuring that they possess proper documentation to do so,” said the Federal Register notice announcing the project.

Documentation required to cross the border include a passport, border-crossing card or permanent resident card.

Construction of the new border crossing cost more than $5 million and Border Patrol officials estimate it will cost $200,000 a year to maintain. The station was scheduled to open with little fanfare earlier this spring but was delayed until after the election. Another opening date set for today was also postponed due to a scheduling conflict with President Barack Obama’s cabinet meeting in Washington.

A handful of National Park Service employees will be stationed at the remote facility, but when problems arise or someone tries to bypass the crossing station a Border agent patrolling in the 800,000 acre park will be dispatched to the site. The Park Service acknowledges that illegal border crossings and drug smuggling do occur in the sprawling back country.

The station was historically popular with tourists, and will only be open during daylight hours to accommodate foot traffic — no bridge crosses the Rio Grande River so the only access to the border is by ferry boat or swimming.

Written By

Audrey Hudson is an award-winning investigative journalist whose enterprise reporting has sparked numerous congressional investigations that led to laws signed by Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. She won the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi award for Public Service in 2009 for her report on dangerous drug experiments by the federal government on war veterans, which prompted internal investigations and needed reforms within the Veterans Affairs Department. The report also captured first place for investigative reporting by the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a finalist of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences Webby Awards for news and politics. Her breaking stories have been picked up and followed by major news publications and periodicals, including Readers Digest, Washington Monthly, and The Weekly Standard, as well as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Washington Post. With nearly 20 years of experience in Washington as a newspaper reporter and as a Capitol Hill staffer for Western lawmakers, she will now lead Human Eventsâ?? coverage of energy and environmental issues. A native of Kentucky, Mrs. Hudson has worked inside the Beltway for nearly two decades -- on Capitol Hill as a Senate and House spokeswoman, and most recently at The Washington Times covering Congress, Homeland Security, and the Supreme Court. Audreyâ??s email is AHudson@EaglePub.Co