[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 154 (Thursday, August 9, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 47558-47563]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-19458]


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Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.

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Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 154 / Thursday, August 9, 2012 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 47558]]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

8 CFR Part 235

[Docket No. USCBP-2012-0030]
RIN 1651-AA95


Extension of Border Zone in the State of New Mexico

AGENCY: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, DHS.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: Under current Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 
regulations, certain nonimmigrant Mexican nationals presenting a Border 
Crossing Card, or other proper immigration documentation, are not 
required to obtain a CBP Form I-94 (Form I-94), Arrival/Departure 
Record, if they remain within 25 miles of the border (75 miles in 
Arizona). This document proposes to amend the DHS regulations to extend 
the distance these visitors may travel in New Mexico without obtaining 
a Form I-94 from 25 miles to 55 miles. This change is intended to 
promote commerce and tourism in southern New Mexico while still 
ensuring that sufficient safeguards are in place to prevent illegal 
entry to the United States.

DATES: Written comments must be submitted by October 9, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by docket number, by one 
of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments via docket number 
USCBP-2012-0030.
     Mail: Regulations and Rulings, Office of International 
Trade, Customs and Border Protection, Attention: Border Security 
Regulations Branch, 799 9th Street NW., 5th Floor, Washington, DC 
20229-1179.
    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name 
and docket number for this rulemaking. All comments received will be 
posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any 
personal information provided. For detailed instructions on submitting 
comments and additional information on this rulemaking process, see the 
``Public Participation'' heading of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION 
section of this document.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read comments received, go to 
http://www.regulations.gov. Submitted comments may also be inspected on 
regular business days between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the 
Office of International Trade, Customs and Border Protection, 799 9th 
Street NW., 5th Floor, Washington, DC. Arrangements to inspect 
submitted comments should be made in advance by calling Mr. Joseph 
Clark at (202) 325-0118.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Colleen Manaher, CBP Office of Field 
Operations, telephone (202) 344-3003.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Public Participation

    Interested persons are invited to participate in this rulemaking by 
submitting written data, views, or arguments on all aspects of this 
proposed rule. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) also invites 
comments that relate to the economic, environmental, or federalism 
effects that might result from this regulatory change. Comments that 
will provide the most assistance to CBP will reference a specific 
portion of the rule, explain the reason for any recommended change, and 
include data, information or authority that support such recommended 
change.

Executive Summary

    Under current Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations, 
certain nonimmigrant Mexican nationals presenting a Border Crossing 
Card, or other proper immigration documentation, are not required to 
obtain a CBP Form I-94 (Form I-94), Arrival/Departure Record, if they 
remain within 25 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border (75 miles in Arizona). 
This region is known as the border zone and includes portions of 
Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas. Although the border zone 
was intended to promote the economic stability of the border region by 
allowing for freer flow of travel for Mexican visitors with secure 
documents, New Mexico has no metropolitan areas and few tourist 
attractions within 25 miles of the border and thus benefits very little 
from the current 25-mile border zone. Consistent with Executive Order 
13563, in order to facilitate commerce, trade, and tourism in southern 
New Mexico, while still ensuring that sufficient safeguards are in 
place to prevent illegal entry to the United States, DHS is proposing 
to extend the distance certain Mexican nationals admitted to the United 
States as nonimmigrant visitors may travel in New Mexico without 
obtaining a Form I-94 from 25 miles to 55 miles from the U.S.-Mexico 
border. In addition to promoting the economy in this area and 
facilitating legitimate travel, the proposed extension would increase 
CBP's administrative efficiency by reducing unnecessary paperwork 
burdens associated with the I-94 process and allowing CBP to focus 
resources on security enhancing activities to the greatest extent 
possible.
    Therefore, pursuant to the immigration rulemaking authority found 
in 8 U.S.C. 1103, DHS is proposing to amend 8 CFR 235.1(h) to expand 
the area in which certain Mexican nationals may travel without having 
to obtain a Form I-94 from 25 miles to 55 miles from the U.S.-Mexico 
border in the state of New Mexico.
    The majority of Mexican nationals who are exempt from the Form I-94 
requirement possess and apply for admission to the United States with a 
Border Crossing Card (BCC). The BCC is issued by the Department of 
State and is an approved document to establish identity and citizenship 
at the border and also serves as a B-1/B-2 visitor's visa. The BCC 
includes many security features such as vicinity-read Radio Frequency 
Identification (RFID) technology and a machine-readable zone; using 
these features, CBP is able to electronically authenticate the BCC and 
biometrically compare the biometrics, photo and fingerprints, of the 
individual presenting the BCC against State Department issuance records 
in order to confirm that the document is currently valid and that the 
person presenting the document is the one to whom it was issued.
    The proposed extension of the border zone would not change the 
threshold requirements for admission into the

[[Page 47559]]

United States, including permanent residence abroad, intent and 
duration of the visit, and eligibility. It would also not affect the 
30-day time limit of the border zone applicable to BCC holders or the 
72-hour time limit of the border zone applicable to Mexican nationals 
presenting a visa and passport.

Background

    Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) contains DHS 
regulations regarding immigration. Under Sec.  235.1(h)(1) of the DHS 
regulations (8 CFR 235.1(h)(1)), each arriving nonimmigrant who is 
admitted to the United States is issued a Form I-94, Arrival/Departure 
Record, as evidence of the terms of admission, subject to specified 
exemptions. Among other things, the Form I-94 collects information 
about the visitor's destination in the United States. This form is not 
required for a Mexican national admitted as a nonimmigrant visitor with 
certain documentation if he or she remains within 25 miles of the U.S.-
Mexico border (75 miles within Arizona), for no more than either 30 
days or 72 hours, depending upon the type of travel document the 
nonimmigrant visitor possesses. The area bounded by these limits is 
referred to in this document as the border zone. To be admitted to the 
border zone without a Form I-94, a Mexican national must be in 
possession of a Form DSP-150, B-1/B-2 Visa and Border Crossing Card 
(BCC), or a passport and valid visa, or for a Mexican national who is a 
member of the Texas Band of Kickapoo Indians or Kickapoo Tribe of 
Oklahoma, a Form I-872 American Indian Card. See 8 CFR 235.1(h)(1)(iii) 
and (v). To obtain these documents, applicants must be vetted 
extensively by DHS and/or the Department of State (DOS). The vetting 
process includes collection of information, such as fingerprints, 
photographs, and other information regarding residence, employment and 
reason for border crossing, and an interview, as well as security 
checks to identify any terrorism concerns, disqualifying criminal 
history, or past immigration violations.
    Mexican nationals traveling beyond these specified zones, or who 
will remain beyond the time periods indicated above or seek entry for 
purposes other than as a temporary visitor for business or pleasure, 
are required to obtain and complete a Form I-94. At land border ports 
of entry, the Form I-94 issuance process requires a secondary 
inspection that includes review of travel documents, examination of 
belongings, in-depth interview, database queries, collection of 
biometric data, and collection of a fee (currently, $6.00). A Form I-94 
issued at a land border is generally valid for multiple entries for six 
months.

History of the Border Zone

    Since 1953, Mexico and the United States have agreed to make 
special accommodations for Mexican nationals who cross the U.S.-Mexico 
border into the immediate border area to promote the economic stability 
of the region. On November 12, 1953, the United States and Mexico 
entered into an agreement concerning the U.S.-Mexico border area, which 
included a provision allowing Mexican nationals who resided near the 
border to be issued border crossing-identification cards. These cards 
could be used for multiple applications for admission during the 
validity of the card. Although the agreement did not define the size of 
the border area, subsequent federal regulations have defined this 
region. In November 1982, the former Immigration and Naturalization 
Service (INS) promulgated regulations outlining a 25-mile border zone 
within which Mexican border crossing card holders could travel without 
obtaining a Form I-94. See 47 FR 49953. In 1999, INS extended the 
border zone from 25 miles to 75 miles in Arizona, as there are no 
metropolitan areas within 25 miles of the border in Arizona. See 64 FR 
68616.
    In addition to a geographic limit, the border zone also has a time 
limit. Prior to 2004, eligible Mexican nationals were permitted to 
enter the 25-mile border zone (75 miles in Arizona) for up to 72 hours 
without having to obtain a Form I-94. In 2004, CBP expanded this time 
limit to 30 days for Mexican nationals presenting a BCC. See 69 FR 
50051. The increased time limit accommodated the realities of trade, 
tourism and commerce along the U.S.-Mexico border and promoted 
administrative efficiency. For other Mexican nationals admitted to the 
border zone without a Form I-94, including those presenting a visa and 
passport, CBP retained the 72-hour time limit.\1\
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    \1\ Prior to the implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel 
Initiative (WHTI), Mexican nationals were permitted by 8 CFR 
212.1(c)(1)(ii) to enter the United States without a visa or 
passport if they were entering solely for the purpose of applying 
for a Mexican passport or other official Mexican document at a 
Mexican consular office on the United States side of the border. 
Mexican nationals entering the United States pursuant to 8 CFR 
212.1(c)(1)(ii) could also be admitted to the border zone for up to 
72 hours without obtaining a Form I-94. However, the WHTI land and 
sea final rule (73 FR 18384) eliminated this waiver of the visa and 
passport requirement.
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The Border Crossing Card (BCC)

    Before October 1, 2002, the term ``border crossing card'' was used 
to refer to several different documents. Section 104 of the Illegal 
Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) 
and subsequent amendments, codified at 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(6) and 8 U.S.C. 
1101 note, changed the definition of a border crossing card to require 
the inclusion of a machine readable biometric identifier on all border 
crossing identification cards. The Enhanced Border Security and Visa 
Entry Reform Act of 2002 also established requirements for ``visa and 
entry document,'' as well as deployment and implementation at ports of 
entry to biometrically compare and authenticate such documents. See 
Pub. L. 107-173; 116 Stat. 543. Effective October 1, 2002, the Form 
DSP-150, B-1/B-2 Visa and Border Crossing Card became the border 
crossing card valid for entry into the United States. See 67 FR 71443. 
The BCC is an approved document to establish identity and citizenship 
at the border and also serves as a B-1/B-2 visitor's visa.
    The currently issued BCC is a credit card-sized document, similar 
to a passport card, with a ten-year validity period and includes many 
security features such as vicinity-read Radio Frequency Identification 
(RFID) technology and a machine-readable zone; using these features, 
CBP is able to electronically authenticate the BCC and biometrically 
compare the biometrics, photo and fingerprints, of the individual 
presenting the BCC against State Department issuance records in order 
to confirm that the document is currently valid and that the person 
presenting the document is the one to whom it was issued.
    The BCC is issued by DOS, and applicants must demonstrate that they 
have ties to Mexico that would compel them to return after a temporary 
stay in the United States. Applicants undergo a DOS interview, submit 
fingerprints, photographs, and information regarding residence, 
employment and reason for frequent border crossing. DOS issues 
approximately one million BCCs annually that incorporate RFID 
technology and other security features. At ports of entry, CBP officers 
can verify that the individual presenting the BCC is the authorized 
holder through biometric match (photo and/or fingerprints) and that the 
document is valid by comparison against DOS's issuance records in a 
shared database.
    As specified in 8 CFR 212.1(c)(1)(i), a visa and passport are not 
required of a Mexican national who is in possession

[[Page 47560]]

of a BCC containing a machine-readable biometric identifier and who is 
applying for admission as a temporary visitor for business or pleasure 
from contiguous territory.\2\ The majority of Mexican nationals who are 
exempt from the Form I-94 requirement possess and apply for admission 
to the United States with a BCC. The use of BCCs strengthens the 
integrity and security of the admissions process while allowing 
qualified persons who frequently cross the U.S.-Mexico border to be 
processed more efficiently at ports of entry. CBP seeks comment on this 
assumption.
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    \2\ If the BCC traveler is applying for admission from other 
than contiguous territory, he or she must present a valid passport. 
See 8 CFR 212.1(c)(2)(i).
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Extension of the Border Zone in New Mexico

    Although the border zone was intended to promote the economic 
stability of the border region by allowing for freer flow of travel for 
Mexican visitors with secure documents, New Mexico has no metropolitan 
areas and few tourist attractions within 25 miles of the border and 
thus benefits very little from the current 25-mile border zone. In 
order to facilitate commerce, trade, and tourism in southern New 
Mexico, while still ensuring that sufficient safeguards are in place to 
prevent illegal entry to the United States, CBP is proposing to extend 
the distance Mexican nationals admitted to the United States as 
nonimmigrant visitors may travel in New Mexico without obtaining a Form 
I-94 from 25 miles to 55 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. Several 
cities, state parks, and a major university are located within the 
proposed expanded 55-mile border zone. This would facilitate travel and 
expand commercial activity within the State of New Mexico.
    While the extension of the border zone to 55 miles from the U.S.-
Mexico border would include most of Interstate Highway I-10, there is a 
short stretch of I-10 that is outside the 55-mile zone. Thus, to 
facilitate travel, CBP is also proposing to include a provision to 
include all of Interstate Highway I-10 in the state of New Mexico in 
addition to the extension to 55 miles from the border. A map of the 
proposed expanded border zone can be found in the docket for this 
rulemaking on regulations.gov.
    This proposal will facilitate legitimate travel for Mexican 
visitors that arrive in the United States at a land border. At land 
borders, the I-94 application process occurs at the port of entry at 
secondary inspection and includes an interview with a CBP officer, 
fingerprinting, electronic vetting, paperwork, and the payment of a $6 
fee. CBP estimates that this process takes 8 minutes to complete. Under 
the current 25-mile limit, Mexican business persons, tourists, or 
shoppers who wish to visit any metropolitan area in New Mexico must 
report for secondary inspection, spend the additional time required to 
obtain a Form I-94, and pay the $6 fee. If the limit is extended to 55 
miles, Mexican nationals meeting the requirements for legal entry into 
the United States would be able to travel to metropolitan areas in New 
Mexico, such as the city of Las Cruces or the smaller town of Deming, 
and other destinations, without having to leave their vehicle, wait in 
line to undergo the additional I-94 application process at secondary 
inspection, and pay the fee.
    Under the proposed rule, fewer people will need to obtain I-94s at 
ports of entry. As a result, in addition to promoting the economy in 
this area and facilitating legitimate travel, the proposed extension 
would increase CBP's administrative efficiency by reducing unnecessary 
paperwork burdens associated with the I-94 process and allowing CBP to 
focus resources on security enhancing activities to the greatest extent 
possible. CBP would benefit from the flexibility to allocate its 
resources as efficiently as possible, especially during times of 
increasing budgetary constraints. Reassigning officers from the 
administrative Form I-94 processing to core processing will allow more 
resources to be dedicated to enforcement operations. Thus, this rule 
would allow CBP to better allocate its resources while enhancing its 
enforcement posture. Travelers remain subject to questioning regarding 
intent and purpose of travel during inspection upon arrival at the port 
of entry.
    This rule is also expected to improve efficiency at ports of entry 
and inland immigration checkpoints by minimizing the time it takes to 
review documents for legitimate travelers. Use of travel documents 
containing RFID technology, such as the BCC, contribute to reducing 
individual inspection processing time. Law enforcement queries 
regarding passenger name for persons with RFID travel documents, such 
as the BCC, are 20 percent faster than for persons with documents 
containing only a machine-readable zone, and 60 percent faster than 
manual entry of information from a paper document. Greater use of RFID 
travel documents such as the BCC would allow CBP to focus its efforts 
on higher risk individuals while providing efficiencies in the flow of 
legitimate trade and travel in the area.
    In addition to the above economic and administrative benefits, CBP 
anticipates that this extension would enhance security in this region. 
This stems from the fact that the BCC is CBP's preferred method of 
identification for Mexican nationals entering the United States at land 
border ports of entry and this extension would encourage more visitors 
to New Mexico to use the BCC. Greater use of the BCC, compared with use 
of a passport and visa, enables CBP to identify more quickly whether 
travelers present a risk and allows CBP to more effectively focus its 
efforts on higher risk travelers, both at ports of entry and inland 
immigration checkpoints. As indicated above, the use of RFID technology 
in the BCC enables CBP to more quickly authenticate the documents, and 
thus helps CBP more quickly assess whether the traveler presents a 
risk. CBP seeks comment on this conclusion.
    The extension of the border zone would not change the threshold 
requirements for admission into the United States, including permanent 
residence abroad, intent and duration of the visit, and eligibility. 
This extension would also not affect the 30-day time limit of the 
border zone applicable to BCC holders or the 72-hour time limit of the 
border zone applicable to Mexican nationals presenting a visa and 
passport.

Additional, Non-Substantive Amendments

    In addition to the substantive amendments described above, CBP also 
proposes two technical corrections to Sec.  235.1 of title 8 CFR. 
First, in paragraph (h)(1)(iii), we propose to correct the paragraph 
citation from (f)(1)(v) to (h)(1)(v), as this citation was 
inadvertently not changed when paragraph (f) was redesignated as 
paragraph (h) by the WHTI air final rule (71 FR 68412).
    Second, we propose to update several references to Sec.  212.1 of 
title 8 CFR to reflect changes contained in the WHTI land and sea final 
rule (73 FR 18384). That rule included a provision allowing Mexican 
nationals who are members of the Texas Band of Kickapoo Indians or 
Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma to present a Form I-872 American Indian Card 
in lieu of either a passport and visa or BCC at land and sea ports of 
entry when arriving from contiguous territory or adjacent islands. This 
new provision was placed in paragraph (c)(1)(ii) of Sec.  212.1, the 
paragraph that formerly provided for visits to Mexican consular offices 
(see footnote 1 above). In the WHTI land and sea final rule, the cross-
references to the old paragraph (c)(1)(ii)

[[Page 47561]]

found in Sec.  235.1(h)(1) were inadvertently left unchanged. The 
effect is that, under current regulations, Mexican national Kickapoo 
Tribe members presenting a Form I-872 American Indian Card are only 
permitted to enter the border zone for up to 72 hours. CBP considers 
the Form I-872 carried by Kickapoo Tribe members to be comparable to 
the BCC, and intended that Kickapoo Tribe members presenting the card 
would be admitted to the border zone for up to 30 days. To make these 
corrections, CBP proposes to change the cross-reference from Sec.  
212.1(c)(1)(i) to Sec.  212.1(c)(1) in paragraphs (h)(1)(iii)(A) and 
(h)(1)(v)(A), and to remove the reference to Sec.  212.1(c)(1)(ii) from 
paragraphs (h)(1)(iii)(B) and (h)(1)(v)(B). Likewise, proposed 
paragraph (h)(1)(v)(C) would include a cross-reference to Sec.  
212.1(c)(1).

Statutory and Regulatory Requirements

Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review) and Executive 
Order 13563 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review)

    Executive Orders 13563 and 12866 direct agencies to assess the 
costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if 
regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize 
net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public 
health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). Executive 
Order 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and 
benefits, of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting 
flexibility. This proposed rule is a ``significant regulatory action,'' 
although not an economically significant regulatory action, under 
section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) has reviewed this regulation.
    Mexican citizens entering the United States in New Mexico at land 
border ports of entry may present a BCC or a passport and a visa to 
gain admissibility to the United States. Visitors intending to travel 
beyond the border zone, or longer than 30 days (72 hours for certain 
individuals) must also obtain an I-94 form and use it in conjunction 
with their BCC or passport and visa. If the traveler enters using a 
passport and visa, they may travel up to 25 miles from the border and 
may remain in the United States for up to 72 hours. If they enter using 
a BCC, they may travel up to 25 miles from the border and may stay for 
up to 30 days. If they obtain a Form I-94, they may travel anywhere in 
the United States and may stay for up to six months.
    In practice, travelers either enter with a BCC and stay within the 
border zone or obtain an I-94, for use with a passport and visa or with 
a BCC, to go beyond the border zone. In 2011, about 900,000 Mexican 
citizens entered the United States in New Mexico. About sixty percent, 
or 540,000, of these travelers used a BCC. The remainder entered using 
an I-94 with their passport and visa. There were approximately 136,000 
I-94s issued to Mexican citizens at New Mexico land border ports in 
2011. Multiple trips are allowed during the I-94's validity period.
    This rule proposes to expand the geographic limit for BCC holders. 
Under current regulations, BCC holders may travel anywhere within 25 
miles of the border. This proposed rule would allow BCC holders to 
travel anywhere within 55 miles from the border or as far north as 
highway I-10, whichever is farther north. No new infrastructure is 
required to support this proposed change as CBP already has several 
ports of entry and inland immigration checkpoints in place throughout 
the state of New Mexico. In addition, local law enforcement officials 
have indicated that they do not anticipate any enforcement risks with 
expanding the geographic limit. Further, since this rule proposes to 
expand the area BCC holders may visit without an I-94, travelers who 
would have had to pay $6 and obtain an I-94 to travel to these cities 
would be able to travel without paying that fee and obtaining an I-94. 
Therefore, CBP does not anticipate any significant costs associated 
with this proposed rule. CBP seeks comment on whether or not there 
would be any additional costs associated with this proposed rule.
    This expanded border zone would allow Mexican BCC holders to travel 
to many New Mexico destinations that they currently need an I-94 to 
access, including several cities, state parks, and a major university. 
To the extent that BCC holders are obtaining I-94s for the purpose of 
visiting destinations within the expanded border zone, they would need 
to apply for fewer I-94s under this proposed rule. As mentioned 
previously, at land borders the I-94 application process is done at the 
port of entry at secondary inspection and includes an interview with a 
CBP Officer, fingerprinting, electronic vetting, paperwork, and the 
payment of a $6 fee. CBP estimates that this process takes 8 minutes to 
complete. CBP maintains two ports of entry along the Mexican border in 
New Mexico--Columbus and Santa Teresa. Between 2010 and 2011, the port 
of Columbus issued an average of approximately 27,000 I-94 forms per 
year, and the port of Santa Teresa issued an average of approximately 
114,000 I-94 forms per year. CBP does not know how many of the 
travelers currently required to obtain these forms would benefit from 
the expanded geographic limit, but it believes that the percentage who 
would benefit will be less than 25 percent. CBP seeks comment on this 
assumption. CBP believes the percentage will be significantly lower for 
those crossing at Santa Teresa. CBP seeks comment on this assumption. 
Still, eliminating the need for these travelers to leave the vehicle to 
undergo the additional I-94 application process at secondary and pay 
the $6 fee could be a significant savings for Mexican travelers who are 
affected and could benefit the travel and tourism industry in the U.S.-
Mexico border zone. CBP seeks comment on the possible savings for 
Mexican travelers as well as the possible benefits of expanding the 
U.S.-Mexico border zone. CBP would not be adversely affected by this 
loss in I-94 fee revenue because this fee revenue is used exclusively 
to pay for the processing of the I-94. Therefore, the reduction in 
revenue would be offset by a reduction in workload.
    Because this rule would make it unnecessary for some travelers to 
obtain an I-94, CBP would be able to inspect travelers more efficiently 
and focus its efforts on higher risk individuals. CBP expects this 
increase in efficiency to more than offset any new workload caused by a 
small increase in travelers to the United States that may result from 
this proposed change. The BCC is one of the most secure admissibility 
documents used at the border and allows for faster processing at both 
the port of entry and interior immigration checkpoints. BCC holders 
undergo extensive vetting by CBP and DOS. CBP can read the card very 
quickly to verify the validity of the card, the identity of the card 
holder, and other pertinent information about the card holder. A faster 
inspection would allow CBP to spend more time inspecting higher risk 
individuals and could therefore improve security. CBP seeks comment on 
this conclusion.
    Perhaps the greatest benefit of this proposed rule is the potential 
for increased economic activity in New Mexico's border region. 
According to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the 
estimated poverty rate for the United States in

[[Page 47562]]

2006-2010 was 13.8 percent.\3\ For the counties that would be most 
affected by this change, Do[ntilde]a Ana, Hidalgo, and Luna, the 
American Community Survey estimates poverty rates of 24.5 percent, 22.6 
percent, and 32.8 percent, respectively. Much of the cross-border 
traffic is for the purpose of commerce. Mexican citizens travel to New 
Mexico for work, shopping, and recreation, among other things. Las 
Cruces, New Mexico's main population center in the proposed expanded 
border zone, and other smaller cities are at a disadvantage in 
attracting this traffic because they are outside of the current border 
zone. By comparison, the main population centers along the Arizona and 
Texas borders are within the current border zone (75 miles in Arizona 
and 25 miles in Texas). Thus, the current border zone creates 
significant disincentive for visitors from Mexico to engage in commerce 
in New Mexico. In addition, BCC holders can currently travel much of 
the highway I-10 corridor in Arizona, but are prevented from continuing 
into New Mexico unless they have an I-94. This rule would expand the 
border zone enough to allow BCC holders to travel on highway I-10 from 
Tucson, Arizona to Las Cruces, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas, which 
would benefit commerce in the entire region. CBP seeks comment on this 
assumption. This rule is expected to increase access to U.S. markets 
for Mexican travelers and is expected to result in increased travel 
through the New Mexico border region, which would lead to increased 
sales, employment, and local tax revenue. DHS requests public comment 
on the extent that this rule would increase economic activity in New 
Mexico's border region and how this rule, if finalized, would impact 
economic activity in the current BCC approved regions in Arizona and 
Texas.
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    \3\ U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 5 year 
estimate (2006 to 2010), table S1701. This data can be queried via 
the American Fact Finder database located at http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/searchresults.xhtml?refresh=t.
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    In summary, by expanding the border zone for BCC holders, this rule 
would not impose any new costs on the public or on the United States 
government. Further, this rule is expected to reduce costs to visitors 
to the United States, improve security, and benefit commerce in a 
relatively impoverished region. CBP seeks comment on these conclusions.

The Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This section examines the impact of the rule on small entities as 
required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), as 
amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement and Fairness Act 
of 1996. A small entity may be a small business (defined as any 
independently owned and operated business not dominant in its field 
that qualifies as a small business per the Small Business Act); a small 
not-for-profit organization; or a small governmental jurisdiction 
(locality with fewer than 50,000 people).
    This rule directly regulates individuals and individuals are not 
considered small entities. In addition, this rule is purely beneficial 
to these individuals as it expands the area BCC holders may travel 
without needing to obtain an I-94. As explained above, DHS is not aware 
of any direct costs imposed on the public by expanding the geographic 
limit for BCC holders but is aware of a cost savings for the traveling 
public by expanding the geographic limit. CBP seeks comment on this 
conclusion.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    An agency may not conduct, and a person is not required to respond 
to, a collection of information unless the collection of information 
displays a valid control number assigned by OMB. CBP anticipates that 
the new provisions in this Rule will result in a slight decrease in the 
number of I-94's (Arrival/Departure Record) filed annually. CBP Form I-
94 was previously reviewed and approved by OMB in accordance with the 
requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507) 
under OMB Control Number 1651-0111.
    The decrease in the burden estimate for CBP Form I-94 resulting 
from this Rule is:
    Estimated Decrease in Number of Respondents: 12,450.
    Estimated Time per Respondent: 8 minutes.
    Estimated Decrease in Total Annual Burden Hours: 1,656.
    Comments concerning the accuracy of this cost estimate and 
suggestions for reducing this burden should be directed to the Office 
of Management and Budget, Attention: Desk Officer for the Department of 
Homeland Security, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, 
Washington, DC 20503. A copy should also be sent to the Border Security 
Regulations Branch, Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, 1300 
Pennsylvania Avenue NW. (Mint Annex), Washington, DC 20229.

List of Subjects in 8 CFR Part 235

    Administrative practice and procedure, Aliens, Immigration, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

Amendments to the Regulations

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, CBP proposes to amend 8 
CFR part 235 as set forth below.

PART 235--INSPECTION OF PERSONS APPLYING FOR ADMISSION

    1. The general authority citation for part 235 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  8 U.S.C. 1101 and note, 1103, 1183, 1185 and note, 
1201, 1224, 1225, 1226, 1228, 1365a note, 1379, and 1731-32; Title 
VII of Pub. L. 110-229.
* * * * *
    2. In Sec.  235.1, revise paragraphs (h)(1)(iii), and (h)(1)(v)(A) 
and (B), and add paragraphs (h)(1)(v)(C) and (D) to read as follows:


Sec.  235.1  Scope of examination.

* * * * *
    (h) Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record. * * *
    (1) * * *
    (iii) Except as provided in paragraph (h)(1)(v) of this section, 
any Mexican national admitted as a nonimmigrant visitor who is:
    (A) Exempt from a visa and passport pursuant to Sec.  212.1(c)(1) 
of this chapter and is admitted for a period not to exceed 30 days to 
visit within 25 miles of the border; or
    (B) In possession of a valid visa and passport and is admitted for 
a period not to exceed 72 hours to visit within 25 miles of the border;
    (iv) * * *
    (v) * * *
    (A) Exempt from a visa and passport pursuant to Sec.  212.1(c)(1) 
of this chapter and is admitted at the Mexican border POEs in the State 
of Arizona at Sasabe, Nogales, Mariposa, Naco or Douglas to visit 
within the State of Arizona within 75 miles of the border for a period 
not to exceed 30 days; or
    (B) In possession of a valid visa and passport and is admitted at 
the Mexican border POEs in the State of Arizona at Sasabe, Nogales, 
Mariposa, Naco or Douglas to visit within the State of Arizona within 
75 miles of the border for a period not to exceed 72 hours; or
    (C) Exempt from visa and passport pursuant to Sec.  212.1(c)(1) of 
this chapter and is admitted for a period not to exceed 30 days to 
visit within the State of New Mexico within 55 miles of the border or 
the area south of and including Interstate Highway I-10, whichever is 
further north; or
    (D) In possession of a valid visa and passport and is admitted for 
a period not to exceed 72 hours to visit within the State of New Mexico 
within 55 miles of the border or the area south of

[[Page 47563]]

and including Interstate Highway I-10, whichever is further north.
* * * * *

Janet Napolitano,
Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2012-19458 Filed 8-8-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 9111-14-P