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Old 05-28-2014, 11:21 PM
Location: Lawless Wild West
660 posts, read 741,754 times
Reputation: 985


I need help!

My husband's cousin is getting married in Juarez, Mexico which is all fine and dandy except this was a shotgun wedding! He didn't impregnate his new wife or anything, just that he decided to just up and get married in a month. My husband got the news of the upcoming nuptials about 3-4 weeks ago.

He has dual citizenship, he's Mexican and he has American citizenship through his parents. He does not have a USA passport, but he does have the birth certificate from this country and Mexico. His side of the family swears that you don't really need a passport, and a birth certificate is good enough to come back from Mexico to the States.

The plan is to go to El Paso, TX (where his parents and sisters live) and then hop across the border to Juarez, Mexico (where his other family members live). I have a USA passport that's expired. I finally found it about a week ago so essentially, there's zero time to renew it! Expediting the passport process for both of us is way too expensive!

My original birth certificate is with my mother, she refuses to fork it over because she's afraid I'll lose it. In fact, she's thinking of putting it in a safety deposit box along with other important documents just in case. I don't really mind since I have the copy of my birth certificate which is practically the same. The thing is that my husband insists I need the original birth certificate, and he has got it in his head that if I bring my expired Passport, my driver's license, and my original birth certificate, I would be able to come back to the States from Mexico just as easily. That I don't really need a passport!

All the websites I've been through including the Embassies all state that we need passports to travel to and from Mexico, in addition to the typical Travel Warnings about going to Juarez. I showed the sites to my husband but he ignores it and chooses to believe his mother. For what it's worth, he claims that his sister went to Juarez and back without a passport and only a birth certificate a few months ago. I tell him that it could've been that the border patrol agent was nice, as not all patrol agents are the same......

What should I do?
I'm at my wit's end. The wedding is this weekend and my husband wants to leave to El Paso soon. I want to go solely to see his parents and my sister-in-law again but I just -know- that deep down, I wouldn't be able to go to his cousin's wedding. I even offered that we skip the cousin's wedding for now, save up more money, and go to El Paso and Juarez a few months down the line for 2 weeks instead of the initial 3 day visit, but he won't budge.

Any tips?
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:43 PM
Location: Niceville, FL
7,680 posts, read 16,098,271 times
Reputation: 7700
What state is your driver's license issued in? Some like Michigan can be 'enhanced' and are the same as a passport card and will let you travel to Mexico and Canada and back by land crossings.

Birth certificate + driver's license as proof of citizenship for anyone over age 16 was officially phased out in 2009 so either someone lied or border control wasn't doing their job right.
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:50 PM
Location: Out there somewhere...a traveling man.
39,534 posts, read 47,711,196 times
Reputation: 110352
OP...This State Dept website may help answer all your questions:
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Old 05-29-2014, 05:51 AM
Location: Tucson/Nogales
17,391 posts, read 21,228,976 times
Reputation: 24216
I've talked to a number of people crossing the Border, in both Nogales and Tijuana, with no passports, who go back and forth, regularly, and it's No Problema! A current Driver's License will get you through, although you may have to go thru a separate line, which is going to take longer. They simply can't refuse to let you not cross back over to the U.S. If so, you'd hear about it in the news!

I asked a Customs agent one time, blandishing my passport: What would happen if I didn't have this with me? His response, with laughter, slapping his wrist!

I also told him my if niece from MN comes out, who doesn't have a passport, and doesn't want to get one for a one-in-a-life trip to Tijuana, he said No Problema!

You'll be safe in Juarez, providing you project an image of fearlessness! Don't show any fear, even though you're ready to crap your pants!
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Old 05-29-2014, 05:55 AM
35,108 posts, read 40,221,218 times
Reputation: 62050
A shotgun wedding is when one is pregnant and unmarried.

Otherwise from what I understand you do need at the minimum a passport card to get into and out of Canada and Mexico by land or sea, if you are going to fly you need an actual passport.
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Old 05-29-2014, 06:06 AM
3,161 posts, read 8,094,295 times
Reputation: 2385
I don't really see what the big question here is. The US State Department website makes it pretty clear: You must present a valid U.S. passport or passport card in order to enter Mexico. See for yourself under the "Entry and Exit requirements" section Mexico

As it stands right now, it sounds like you do not have the proper documentation. No one cares about your birth certificate when traveling to other countries, it is meaningless which is why it is not a valid form of ID when traveling. You need the proper international travel documentation, which is a passport (or a passport card in this case).

Edited to add: you could give me all of the anecdotal evidence you want about people breaking the rules or getting waved through without proper documentation. However, there is NO WAY IN HELL that I would leave the US without the proper documentation to return. What exactly is your Plan B if they don't let you back into the US because you don't have the proper paperwork?
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Old 05-29-2014, 07:30 AM
556 posts, read 761,377 times
Reputation: 687
While there may be anecdotal cases of US citizens re-entering the US from Mexico without a passport, I would never risk it. Yes, border agents can deny entry. That doesn't mean he can never get home, but it might take some time and money (and visits to the US consulate). The fact that your husband is a dual citizen likely makes it an even worse idea - without definitive proof of US citizenship (passport), border agents may reasonably assume he is a Mexican citizen without claim to US citizenship.
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Old 05-29-2014, 11:02 PM
Location: Victoria TX
42,663 posts, read 74,241,442 times
Reputation: 36087
Originally Posted by mels View Post
The US State Department website makes it pretty clear: [i]You must present a valid U.S. passport or passport card in order to enter Mexico.
Absolutely wrong. You do not need anything at all to enter Mexico, as long as you remain in the border zone (which includes all of Juarez). What the State Department means is that you must have a passport to RETURN to the US from Mexico. If you want to proceed 20 miles or so into the interior of Mexico, then yes, you need a passport to get past the interior Mexican immigration checkpoints. But not to go to Juarez.

Now, back to your husband. If he was born in Mexico, or has a Spanish surname, or looks Mexican, it will be no easy matter for him to get back into the US without a passport. There are Americans who come back without passports, but they are given a good look by ICE, and it can be done as long as you appear to be obviously American. If he wants top try it, carry along a lot of papers that will show his permanent and recent residence in the USA, like utility bills in his name, apartment lease, check stubs, etc.
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Old 05-30-2014, 05:01 AM
Location: Camberville
12,023 posts, read 16,761,808 times
Reputation: 19736
No passport is required to enter Juarez from the US because it is in the frontera zone but a passport is ABSOLUTELY required to get back into the US. If you have a pile of money that you feel like lighting on fire, risk finding a one-off border patrol official who will let you back in. If not, its going to be a heap of trouble for you and especially your husband to return. He will, of course, but not after wasting a lot of time and money. A lot more than rush passports cost.

Different country of course, but a coworker recently got trapped in Montreal for a few days because one of the couples' 4 kids lost his passport. They discovered this at the border on a Friday and were not able to get a replacement passport until the following TUESDAY. Consulates are closed on weekends and holidays and, unless you are a victim of a crime, might not be able to get to your case immediately. They had to pay for four more nights in a hotel, four more days of food, plus the fees to get a replacement passport. And they had an active passport on file. Your husband and you do not so you could face even more difficulties because you knowingly put yourself in that situation.

Can he skip the wedding? Otherwise, you'll need to pony up for last-minute passports for both of you.
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Old 05-31-2014, 10:27 AM
Location: Texas
14,969 posts, read 14,212,120 times
Reputation: 4563
You do need a passport to return to the US, as others have stated.

Aside from that, neither of you should be going to Juarez even with passports. You would be risking your life.
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