EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Good news for graduates: the University of Texas at El Paso and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have reached an agreement that will permit members of the graduating classes of 2020 and Spring/Summer 2021 living in Mexico, and their parents to attend the University’s Commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 14, 2021 and Saturday, May 15, 2021.
CBP Field Operations Director Hector Mancha is granting the waivers after a request was made by UTEP President Heather Wilson.
“As America’s leading Hispanic-serving university, UTEP serves students in a binational and bicultural region, and we have approximately 1,000 international students from Mexico,” said UTEP President Heather Wilson. “Commencement is a very important milestone for all of us, most importantly for our students and their families, since it represents a celebration of their collective efforts and sacrifices. We are grateful to our partners at the CBP, especially Director of Field Operations Hector Mancha, for working with us to make this happen for our students and their families.”
KTSM received a copy of the letter that reads in part:
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) considers UTEP a valued local community partner, thus I am prepared to facilitate the attendance of parents with valid travel documents that arrive from Mexico for the UTEP graduation ceremonies in May 2021.”
The decision was made after discussions with local leaders and health officials.
A CBP official tells KTSM that the decision to extend travel restriction exemptions to parents of graduating UTEP students was reached after considerable outreach and discussion with the community. In addition to communicating with UTEP, Mancha and his leadership team consulted with elected officials and local health experts to assess any concerns regarding balancing public health and attendance at the milestone event.
The official also noted that every official consulted about the plan was fully supportive.
In his letter, Mancha writes that the waivers are only being extended to parents with valid travel documents. Parents with expired travel documents, siblings, extended family and friends are not eligible for the waivers.
UTEP continues to work with CBP on the details of how this agreement will be implemented at local border crossings.
UTEP says it will be in contact with students regarding logistics soon.