(LAS CRUCES) -- Passing the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act of 2009 has helped opened four new passport agencies across the country including one in El Paso. This month, staff members with the office are celebrating their first year anniversary.
Since opening its doors, the El Paso Passport Agency has processed 70,000 passports to American travelers.
“The goal in opening the El Paso Passport agency was to provide in person, fast and convenient passport services to a previously under served community. Before our agency opened, U.S. citizens in El Paso and the surrounding areas who had travel hundreds of miles to get a passport,” said Cynthia Haley, director of the El Paso Passport Agency.
According to leaders, El Paso is one of 26 cities with a passport agency. There are also three mega processsing centers and two passport book and passport card printing facilities around the country.
“Since we opened, we’ve been able to help a little girl get her passport so she can make her grandmother’s funeral. We’ve been able to assist a women make the bed side of her dying mother. We’ve assisted veterans who’ve had problems with social security benefits and needed proof of U.S. Citizenship through immigration law and we’ve helped countless others obtain there passport book and your card quickly so they can travel abroad to see loved ones attend important family and or business events,” said Santiago Burciaga with the agency.
Leaders with the El Paso Passport Agency say the number of validated passports in circulation has doubled. They say there are now 110 million Americans with a validate passport.
“It’s proof of U.S. citizenship. So, if you’re a naturalized citizen you don’t want to walk around with your documents because it’s very expensive to replace if you lose it. The passport book is $130 dollars for first time adult applicants and $55 for the card. The card is good at land and seaport entries. You can’t fly using the card, but any residents here along the border cross into Mexico and they could use the passport card. Now those who fly use the book,” said Jennifer Archibeque with the El Paso Passport Agency.