U.S. citizens entering Mexico on foot are being charged a $28 fee as part of a new pilot program that aims to track travelers throughout the country.
According to Mexican immigration officials, the new program, which could soon expand to vehicle lanes as well, will keep tabs on all non-Mexicans who come to the country for travel or work for more than seven days.
The National Immigration Institute in Mexico, which is enforcing the fee at the Otay, San Ysidro and Puerta Mexico Este ports of entry, argues that it is only fair to charge foreigners who spend extended time in their country.
“We are doing what should be done,” Rudolfo Figueroa, representative of INAMI in Baja California, told ABC10 News. “Foreigners who enter Mexico have the obligation to register; if they will be in national territory for more than seven days, they have to pay the right of non-residents.”
Mike Coburn, an American citizen who frequently travels to Mexico, claims Mexican border officials are asking everyone to buy the permit, regardless if they are staying more than seven days.
“If you’re staying more than seven days, you’re supposed to buy the permit. The confusion is that at the border, [officials] are not telling people that,” Coburn said. “They’re saying, ‘Oh you need to start buying a permit.'”
While some say that the rule is standard practice for most countries, others feel the fee is hypocritical given the Mexican government’s role in helping illegal immigrants in the United States avoid deportation.
Ironically, the Department of Homeland Security under the Obama administration recently fined an American $5,000 for walking into the United States from Canada, a fine which is never handed out to thousands of illegal immigrants entering the country on a regular basis.
President Obama’s plan to grant amnesty to millions already living inside the United States will only further cement the one-way door between the two countries, as Americans living under the poverty line struggle to support the influx of illegal immigrants.