Jonathan Roldan – BAJA BEAT

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Friday, December 08, 2017
A better fish fillet
Friday, January 12, 2018
I swear, it was THIS BIG!

‘Scrooged’ at the border?
Not that it’s been easy at the border sometimes, but given it’s the Christmas season, it’s getting a little “grinchy” lately. There’s a lot of holiday traffic coming and going through the crossings. Same at the airports.

Not only are many folks going back and forth visiting, but both ways, there’s a lot of shopping going on. Baja folks shopping in Southern California and Arizona. Folks in those states are likewise making shopping forays into Baja and northern Mexico as well.

If you’ve ever walked or driven across the border into Mexico this time of year, you can see all the bundles of toys and electronics that folks bring back home, especially for the holidays. Likewise, if you’ve flown into Mexico from the States, you’ve witnessed the same things.

Everyone’s got their bundles of joy. Expect longer, slower lines. It’s just part of it. Folks carrying Iron Man action figures and remote-control trucks over the border. Folks with bulging bags from “Toys-R-Us” trying to get stuffed into the overhead on the plane.

However, there are many folks coming into Mexico land space that routinely bring good cheer to a higher level. They bring bags, suitcases, boxes…even truckloads of new and used donations… toys, clothes, shoes, medical supplies, building supplies, educational materials and more.

Community groups, church groups, social organizations, fraternal lodges and many, many individuals with generous hearts safari into Mexico from all parts. Their largesse is welcome and needed.

However, with increasing incidence, it’s getting more difficult to simply transport donations south. It’s even more difficult during the holidays.

With all of the goods coming across from laptops-to-toys and shoes-to-jackets, the border inspectors have been coming down harder on searching through bags, whether at the airport or at the country lines.

It’s one thing if you have a new X-Box and have a sales receipt to show them.

It’s a different issue if you’re transporting three dozen pair of Nike shoes, two dozen jackets; two laptops and three dozen pairs of Levis.

You tell the inspector they’re donations for an orphanage. You tell him they were all purchased by your church “back home.”

First thing he’s gonna wanna see is if you declared these things for customs to see if you paid the import on them. Or, if they are even subject to customs. Do you have a real sales receipt?

Where’s the orphanage? Do you have papers from them? What church group are you from? Are you alone?

A lot of folks are legit. Just doing the good thing. But, it’s never easy being questioned and it puts a crimp on the good Samaritan attitudes.

But, from the inspector’s point of view, his job is to check for contraband and lawful import duties and taxes. It is just as likely you have all these things because you’re going to resell them once you get across the border into Mexico. You wouldn’t be the first.

As one inspector told me, “Lots of people lie on their customs forms.”

Say it ain’t so! People don’t tell the truth to the customs agents? Really?

So, good people are getting stopped.

Before you bring it, know the importation and customs laws. Bring receipts with you. It sure helps to have paperwork from the charity you’re delivering to, and/or the organization you’re representing, if any.

In the half dozen cases I’ve encountered, they involved individuals or an individual who routinely drove or flew donations down to Mexico. Never had problems… until recently.

They all got searched unexpectedly. And the searches were thorough.

The majority of them had paperwork and were not required to pay duties. They were ultimately politely waved through.

Two of the others had to pay small duties on the new items they had in their truck (T-shirts and school supplies). They were able to demonstrate that their other items were used clothing.

One officer recognized the name of the orphanage in Ensenada and finally waived them through without penalties.

It was still a hassle. No one blamed the inspectors, who were all professional and polite and had a job to do.

But all of them said they would make sure to have better documentation with them next time to alleviate and expedite the process.

So, God bless you if you’re bringing down donations during the holidays or for that matter, anytime of the year.

A little foresight and preparation helps! That goes for bringing gifts to friends in Mexico as well. Don’t forget your receipts!

Speaking of “inspections,” that dreaded “red light/ green light” at the airport customs counter in airports is getting 86’ed.

If you’re not familiar, after you get your luggage, you must pass through a customs inspection. You press a button. If you get the green light, you get to go out.

If you get the dreaded red light, they’re gonna open your bags and rifle through your underwear, fishing gear, toothbrush and iPad.

It was like playing the airport lottery when you press the button. Personally, I always try to get behind someone who just got the red light. The red light rarely comes on twice in a row!

No one likes to have their bags opened. But, Mexico is apparently going completely with x-ray machines now.

Orale y Feliz Navidad a todos! Que Dios les bendiga! Merry Christmas and God bless!

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