BROWNSVILLE — The United States Department of State in collaboration with the Houston Passport Agency and the Consulate of Mexico in the U.S. held a press conference Tuesday to increase awareness of the U.S. passports process for minors along the southern border.

Fernando J. Valdes Vicencio, deputy consul for the Consul of Mexico in Brownsville, said there are benefits for having a passport, even more so on the border because it speeds the time for crossing back to the U.S. if they are crossing by land and also protects children if they have to travel to Mexico.

“It speeds the time for crossing and even more so if they are crossing by land, there is a special line for American passports that will save them more than one hour if there is a long line,” Valdes Vicencio said. “It also protects the child if they have to travel to Mexico, if the parents are Mexican and are here undocumented, it allows for the children to have their American documents and have them come to the United States to visit or for school even if the parents can’t come. It is easier to do it here than if they do it at a U.S. Consulate in Mexico.”

Valdes Vicencio said undocumented parents of U.S. children can get the passport for their child if they show their Mexican passports as their official identification document.

Ashley Kapsar, customer service manager for the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, said the legal status of non-applying parents is not verified.

“When we get the applications, the legal status is not verified, we do not ask for the status of the non-applying parents,” Kapsar said. “It’s great to document the children with their U.S. passports here in the United States. It’s an easy process, there’s more acceptance facilities on this side of the border than there are going into a consulate or embassy over in Mexico.”

Kapsar said to apply for a passport the family can go to an acceptance facility where they can submit the necessary documents for a child’s passport. The requirements are: Complete DS-11 application form for new passport, two passport photos, child proof of citizenship, evidence of parental relationship, parental consent (if one parent is applying) and the passport fee.

The fee for the passport book is $115 and for the passport card is $50.

“We recommend parents think of passports as a good option for children who are not 16 years old, do not have a driver’s license but still want some form of ID that establishes their citizenship,” Andres Rodriguez, community relations officer with the Office of Passport Services of the U.S. Department of State, said. “The border region is very unique because it’s not everywhere in the world where the United States touches borders. In Mexico we have nine consulates, we have a big presence in Mexico and I know that our colleagues there are happy to serve.”