November 2, 2011
A U.S. national park will once again become a point of entry for citizens of Mexico now that Washington has decided to reopen an unmanned border crossing.
The border crossing, located in Big Bend National Park in remote southwest Texas, had been open for more than a century, most recently to allow park visitors to also visit Mexico’s Parque Nacional Canon de Santa Elena on the opposite side of the Rio Grande River. However, in May 2002, the Bush administration decided to shutter the crossing as part of its response to increased national security after the September 11 attacks.
Beginning next spring, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents will man the border crossing remotely using cameras and computers. National Park Service rangers will be available to answer questions, but it will be up to the border patrol to track down anyone entering the U.S. without authorization.
Critics say opening an unmanned crossing is just asking for trouble. “Crooks will find a hole in the defense and that’s what an unmanned border point is,” Kent Lundgren, chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, told The Wall Street Journal. Similar unmanned crossings already exist along the U.S. border with Canada.