Border Patrol warns US citizens, residents, and foreign nationals ahead of bi-national border event

FAR WEST TEXAS – U.S. Border Patrol Big Bend Sector reminds all border communities of the laws that apply when making an entry into the United States at a place other than an official port of entry.

Big Bend Sector Chief Patrol Agent Matthew J. Hudak said, “Although some of our border communities share many things in common, and the Rio Grande offers us a variety of activities, our laws should always be respected. Regardless of what brings you to the Rio Grande, everyone should know that we will be vigilant in enforcing all applicable laws.

Along with other statutes, Border Patrol Agents are authorized to enforce laws under Title 8 and Title 19 of the United States Code (USC) of Federal Regulations. Under Title 8 USC Section 1325, for an “improper entry by alien,” a first-time offender can be fined (as a criminal penalty), or imprisoned for up to six months or both. Under Title 19 Section 1497, a US citizen or resident alien must declare merchandise and any article which is not included in the declaration at entry shall be subject to forfeiture and such person shall be liable for a penalty. If the article is a controlled substance, the amount of penalty imposed is equal to either $500 or an amount equal to 1,000 percent of the value of the article, whichever amount is greater. If the article is not a controlled substance, the value of the article will be fined.

Further, under 19 USC 1459, a US citizen or resident alien, arriving in the US by foot, must arrive “only at a border crossing point designated by the Secretary” of Homeland Security and violations of this statute could lead to civil (e.g., $5000 fine for first offense) or criminal penalties.