Tourist Visa Clarification

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foto por Bajadock

SDUT

— Mexico’s top immigration official in Baja California worked Tuesday to assuage fears of long southbound pedestrian lines into the country as his agency prepares to step up enforcement of a requirement that U.S. visitors carry a passport when entering Mexico.

“We are going to do everything possible to ensure that there are no obstacles,” Rodulfo Figueroa said during a news conference at the offices of the Tijuana Tourism and Conventions Committee. “We’re going to start applying the law gradually. We know there is going to be a learning period, we won’t be inflexible in applying the law, but certainly we’ll try to educate the public.”

Figueroa said Mexico’s National Migration Institute simply is moving to enforce a 2012 law requiring foreigners to carry travel documents and for certain visitors to pay a fee.

A previous attempt to do so last year at Otay Mesa was canceled following protests by Baja California business and political leaders.

Only those visitors staying for more than seven days, or who are being paid for work in Mexico, would pay the 332-peso fee, about $21.

This time, the president of the Tourism and Conventions Committee, Miguel Angel Badiola, called Tuesday’s conference in an effort to clarify the rules, which will be increasingly enforced with the opening of a new pedestrian inspection station at San Ysidro in coming weeks.

Also attending was Humberto Jaramillo, head of a business umbrella group, the Business Coordinating Committee, who said, “I don’t think there will be an effect, and if there were, we’d be the first to approach authorities.”

Others have been critical of the measure.

“The idea that everybody has to carry a passport is totally ridiculous,” said Frank Carrillo, president of SIMNSA Health Plan, which treats insured U.S. workers in Mexico. Many patients are Mexicans with permanent resident status in the United States, he said. “Most of them have green cards, do they have to carry their Mexican passport as well? It’s totally inconvenient.”

sandra.dibble@sduniontribune.com

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