Texas Border Prepares for Papal Visit to Juarez

In four weeks, Juarez will welcome Pope Francis during his trip to the Mexico-U.S. border that's expected to last 10 hours.

Officials expect millions of visitors to cross the boarder from El Paso for the Feb. 17 papal visit.

"In anticipation of an influx of border crossers, we are going to increase staffing as well as increase the hours of operation in our ports of entry," said Ruben Jauregui, Customs and Border's Protection's Field Operations.

Jauregui said they're preparing for an unprecedented number of travelers the week of Pope Francis's visit.

"All passenger operations at the Bridge of the Americas will remain open," Jauregui said. "The only area that's going to close is the commercial lot at the Bridge of the Americas."

Even though all passenger lanes at the Bridge of the Americas will be open, officials in Juarez recommend not taking that route if you're going to see the Pontiff.

"It's not recommended to take that bridge because it's going to be very near to one of the events where the pope is going to be and because of the security of the pope," said Oscar Luis Acosta, chief of transit, city of Juarez. "It's better to take the other ports."

Acosta said people should be ready to do a lot of walking.

"All of the people that will see the pope will have to walk at least one mile, so everybody has to expect that," he said. "Everybody has to be patient."

Acosta said people should plan to be in Juarez at least one day before the pope's visit.

Several streets are scheduled to be shut down for 24 hours, including Avenida Tecnologico, which is the main stretch of the pope's route.

"So you have to expect to not be able to cross from east to west on that street because that's the main street that divides Juarez, but everybody will be able to see the pope on that route," Acosta said.

CBP officials said there's no way of predicting how long it will take to get back into the U.S., but they do recommend to check their website for wait times that day.

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