Not long ago, people were able to easily cross the Rio Grande sans passport or auto insurance, free to roam Mexican border towns. These days, people in border communities are all too familiar with the acronym WHTI (the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative), a U.S.-entry program initiated by the federal government with the help of its Department of Homeland Security.
The proposed rules require most U.S. citizens entering the country to have either a U.S. passport or a valid military identification card. Since the WHIT has not yet officially been enacted as of this writing, travelers are advised to contact the appropriate Texas border community’s visitors bureau for the latest news about required documentation for entering Mexico.
There are several notes of caution when visiting Mexico. Though many of the following items are isolated events, they serve as reminders of potential hazards. Avoid going to a Mexican border town alone at night, particularly away from the main tourista areas; be cautious about what you eat and drink—avoid water (including ice), fruits, vegetables, and dishes made with cream and milk (pasteurization issues); and know the official customs limits and declare what you have purchased (there are limits on cigarettes and alcohol).
Keeping these things in mind, travelers should still strongly consider making a run for the border. With a little advance planning, you can cross the bridge and return with a memorable international experience.