A new passport agency has opened in El Paso, Texas, that will end the need for nearby residents to travel hours away just to get a passport.
Previously, if El Paso residents needed to quickly obtain a passport for urgent travel plans, they would need to trek 750 miles to Houston or 300 miles to Tucson. Now, with $2.1 million provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, an El Paso Passport Agency has been opened in the historic Anson Mills Building, just a few blocks away from the U.S.-Mexico border.
“For the first time, we will have a facility that will not only process applications but also produce and issue passports on- site right here in El Paso,” said Vincent Perez, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, in an interview with the El Paso Times. Perez said that El Pasoans previously had to overnight their applications across the state in order to quickly obtain a passport.
The new agency provides in-person passport services to those who need to travel through the U.S. in fewer than two weeks or who need a visa to travel internationally in four weeks or less. Same day or next day passport services are available for emergencies for a $60 fee. Normally, the process takes about six weeks.
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Passport Services Brenda Sprague visited El Paso for the agency’s opening ceremony. She said that more businesspeople are traveling, and that should an unexpected need for a passport arise, the new agency will provide one promptly to any El Pasoan in need.
“El Paso was very high on our list because we felt we were not properly supporting the borderland,” Sprague said. “You get these very complicated issues because it’s very common for people here to have business, family, residences on both sides of the border.”
The new office is one of seven agencies that the U.S. Department of State plans to open along the northern and southern U.S. borders. Agencies in San Diego, Buffalo, N.Y. and St. Albans, Vt. have been opened in recent months, and existing agencies in Portsmouth, N.H. and Hot Springs, Ark. have been expanded.
Stewart Rabinowitz is President of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. Mr. Rabinowitz is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. To contact a Dallas immigration lawyer or Dallas immigration attorney visit Rabinowitzrabinowitz.com