Thursday, April 15, 2010

What Happens If . . . . . ?

Basing this on what has transpired to a small group of foreigners over the last three weeks lets suppose that a Mexican is traveling to the U.S. for vacation. The Mexican and his family stop at the border and are required to supply the following for "each" adult or person over the age of 18:

  1. Mexican passport
  2. U.S. Visa which costs 180 dollars
  3. 6 months of salary check stubs
  4. 6 months of one of the following: gas, electric, water or phone bill
  5. cash in the amount "to be determined" by the U.S. immigration officer (lets hope he likes you)
  6. in some cases proof of home ownership
  7. six dollars permit charge
The six dollars is exact change only. They don't make change and there are no ATMs at any of the bridges.

If grandma is with you and she doesnt have a utility bill in her name, shes not going on vacation.

So the family crosses the border and heads for Houston where 19,000 cars were stolen last year. First stop is the mall to do some shopping for American goods, unaware that most the goods they are buying are from Mexico and China. After shopping and a big lunch they head back to the parking lot to find that their Suburban has been stolen.

What documents will they need to prove that the vehicle was theirs? First off they need to have a title. In Mexico, a title as such is not issued. What is issued at the time of purchase of both a new and used car is a "tarjeta de circulacion" which gives the owner the right to use the vehicle on all roads, streets and highways. The title per se, is actually the original invoice from the dealership of purchase. This invoice is handed down from one owner to the next, not a copy, but the original document. This document is guarded as it is the only proof accepted by any Mexican government agency. So this document is never carried in the car.

The couple has filed a report and called the insurance company. But, many Mexicans dont realize that the insurance they buy at the border is strictly liability. They may not be covered for theft. Should the care be recovered which in most cases it isnt, they need to show proof of this original document which is in their native country locked away for safe keeping. They have to go all the way back to their country of origin, pick up the document and return to show proof of ownership. If they are lucky, someone can get access to the document and send it via Federal Express.

Does this story sound familiar? The same applies to their personal documents for U.S. immigration as well as their Mexican documents. The scenary turns into a nightmare.

So it doesnt matter if you are American, Canadian or Mexican, and if you are traveling in any of the three countries, you will be met with their bureaucracy. I feel bad for our Canadian friends and the scare that they suffered but I believe they need to persist and understand that all three countries perform and ask for the same tasks and documents to release property that has been either seized or stolen. Also, the language barrier plays a huge role in the process.

I say, they should hang in there, be persistent and get their property back.

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