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Technology May Speed Crossings At U.S.-Mexico Border

Aired 8/14/13 on KPBS News.

New identification cards could quicken the time it takes people crossing the border at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

— Customs and Border Patrol officials are hoping technology helps them speed travelers across the U.S.-Mexico border.

CBP Photography

The San Ysidro border crossing is the busiest land border crossing in the world. More than 45,000 cars cross there each day as well as 25,000 people on foot.

CBP officials are hoping new technology will help them speed crossings into the United States. Specifically, pedestrians can use the quick-moving ready lane if they have documents that contain radio frequency identification chips.

"Basically we envision U.S. passport cards, newer versions of the lawful permanent resident cards, laser visa border crossing cards," said Sidney Aki, the director of the San Ysidro Port of Entry. "Documents developed since 2008 with the RFID chip embedded we'll be able to scan efficiently in the kiosk and of course the information will be readily accessible to the officers."

Not everyone has those new high-tech documents, said Aki, but the lure of a shorter line might provide motivation. Essentially, travelers will do a job that border officers used to do.

"The passenger will be able scan their own documents when they're in the line," said Aki. "The CBP officer will receive that information, call the traveler over and already have the information readily available and already reviewed, ask a few questions and from there: entry into the United States."

That could trim up to 10 seconds off each person's wait in line, according to Aki. Multiplied by thousands, the savings could be significant.

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