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Fernanda Villanueva

LAREDO, Texas – During the weekend of December 16-18, a large number of paisanos crossed the border port of Laredo on their trip to spend the holidays with their relatives in Mexico.

Officers were stationed at the Paisano Module at the Mile 13 on Interstate 35. The module was available to travelers for any necessary advice.

Tax exemption

The representative of the Paisano Program in Houston, Fernanda Villanueva, explained that at Mile 13 assistance is offered to take out the multiple immigration form, the permit for temporary admission of vehicles – which is subsequently paid International Bridge II facilities – as well as rules on personal baggage and tax exemption.

The tax exemption for civilians increases from $300 to $500 this season per person and is cumulative per family, as long as they travel in the same vehicle.

“The franchise allows them to cross goods without paying taxes, in addition to their personal luggage,” Villanueva said.

Corichi concluded by saying that the effort must come from all levels “because of the contribution that the immigrants make, and to understand that in the event of a massive deportation, Mexico would not have the conditions to take care of them”.


Federal Deputy Claudia Corichi said civilians regularly face common crime and extortion by public officials.

“During this time of year, they arrive loaded with gifts, with enormous generosity towards their land. When they are loaded with so many things, in many places there is temptation for extortion, even as soon as they are crossing the border,” Corichi said during a previous interview on Dec. 14.

She considered the situation unfair because, thanks to the immigrants, the economy has been sustained in Mexico.

“The provisions they send to a particular place is the main reason for the entry of foreign currency into our country,” Corichi said. “That’s why we need to guarantee their rights and treat them well when crossing the border.”

This season, five million people are expected to travel to Mexico, according to statistics from the National Institute of Migration.

“We must guarantee that they have a Merry Christmas, that they do not suffer extortion, and that they do not return to their homeland with a bad taste in their mouth,” she explained.


Mexican Consulates in the United States also applied the latest technology to help the traveling families.

“MiConsulMex,” a mobile application from the Mexican Consulate is very effective since it can accompany the paisano from its departure at their place of residence, to its final destination. The application is free to download on the iOS and Android system.

“It differs by continents, and the place of residence is selected to find the consulate that corresponds to them and gives them information on health, immigration issues, documentation, protection, and useful telephone numbers,” said Fernanda Uribe, Community Affairs Officer for the General Consulate of Mexico in Laredo.

The application was a form of modernization to communicate effectively with travelers.

“Parents are always behind the wheel, and children always have access to a tablet or phone, so we also invite the children to use this application,” said Uribe.

Editor’s Note: The above story was translated from Spanish to English by Diana L. Arellano.