The presence of agents inside Mexican production facilities will enable US Customs preclearance at maquiladoras, thereby speeding up crossborder commerce.

.In a March blog post, on this website, on the subject of US Customs air preclearance, it was noted that one of the primary sticking points holding up the implementation of the inspection of air cargo at Mexican airports by US Customs and Border Protection agents of Mexican products destined for the United States was the issue of US personnel being permitted to carry sidearms on Mexican soil. A recent change to Mexico’s Ley Federal de Armas de Fuego y Explosives, or its Federal Law of Firearms and Explosives, published in the Mexican government’s Official Gazette, the Diario Oficial, by the country’s Secretariat of National Defense on May 23, 2015 has resolved this outstanding matter. Changes in the law will allow armed CBP officers to conduct US Customs preclearance at maquiladoras located on Mexican national territory. It is expected that the first city in which this measure will be implemented will be Tijuana.

According to the US Consul in Ciudad Juarez, Ian Brownlee, conducting US Customs preclearance at maquiladoras “will facilitate commerce.”

Although the measure is designed to speed up trade between the US and Mexico, there are those on the Mexican side of the border that have concerns regarding the changes that the nation’s Secretariat of Defense has made to the Federal Law of Firearms and Explosives. Some Mexican citizens, such as Dr. Jose Arturo Valenzuela Zorrilla of Ciudad Juarez, are of the opinion that “there are no valid reasons that justify an armed agent of the US government to be allowed into Mexico.” He expressed his belief that agents conducting US Customs preclearance at maquiladoras could be appropriately supported “by armed Mexican agents, or by Mexican military personnel.”

In order to address voiced Mexican concerns, Ian Brownlee of the US Consulate in Ciudad Juarez explained that “This will not be a case of putting armed US agents on Mexican streets. Agents will have their appointed places in specific maquiladoras and will be inspecting goods that are destined for export to the United States, and nothing else. They will also be checking trailers and the integrity of their seals.” US Customs preclearance at maquiladoras will enable goods to be directly from where they are manufactured in Mexico to thier final destination without being stopped for further scrutinizaton at a US-Mexico border port of entry.

Some Mexican legal experts belief that the country’s Federal Customs Law, or the Ley Federal Aduanera, does not permit US Customs preclearance at maquiladoras. According to Adrian Rodriquez- Almeida of the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez, under Mexican Customs Law “the only authorities that are able to inspect cargo within the country are those from Mexico.” Although Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Migracion, or Mexico’s National Migration Institute, not yet recieved any requests from US authorities for permission to begin US Customs preclearance at maquiladoras with armed CBP agents, it appears that, despite the objections of Rodriquez-Almeida, and others, the practice will begin soon in Tijuana and other Mexican cities in which industry is producing goods for export.

Read the primary source for this post in its original Spanish at El Diario.