Passports for River Trips???
As anyone that has run this reach of the Rio Grande knows, it is basically impossible to do a river trip in the Big Bend and not end up on the Mexican side of the river. This can happen as a part of your river trip plan, some of the best camps and hikes are on the Mexico side of the river. Or by plain accident, you dump your canoe and the only safe place to land is on river right (Mexico). The International Boundary is officially the center line of the Main Channel and, especially at the lower water levels we have been seeing, you will have at least a part of your boat in Mexico repeatedly during the course of your trip.
There have been several different policy statements made to try and address the issues. At present, the good folks at the Marfa Sector of US Customs and Border Patrol are trying to work with river runners to come up with a solution that allows them to keep doing their job and allows us to keep doing quality river trips. There was even a small contingent of Border Patrol folks on the last “Down River Seminar”, hosted by BBNP, and they got a chance to see first hand what goes on during a river trip.
What we are doing now? As per our instructions as to what is an acceptable method to deal with this situation, we are submitting a Customs Form with a manifest for each of our trips. This form is submitted to US Customs and, so far, allows us to keep doing river trips as we have in the past. At present, US citizens are not required to have a passport number for the form. If you have a passport, go ahead and bring it with you and we’ll use the number on the form, it makes their job easier. If you are not a US citizen, you will need your passport number to submit on the form (you will want to have your passport while traveling in Border regions).
That is the accepted solution at present. Stay tuned for future changes. It is possible that we could see an increase in regulation and enforcement that could result in what would basically be a closure of the river. We, being citizens of the United States, could lose access to what should be thought of as one of our National Treasures.
It would be nice if some of these lawmakers could come down and do a river trip with us, just to see what it is that they are regulating.Social tagging: passport > Rules & Regulations