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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Mexicans who routinely enter the United States must have new identification cards with magnetic strips by Oct. 1, but the Immigration and Naturalization Service still does not have machines that can read all the information on the cards.

INS spokesman Bill Strassberger said that between now and the end of October, INS will be testing machines at six locations: San Ysidro, Los Angeles airport, San Antonio airport, Nogales, Ariz., Atlanta and one other site whose location was not immediately available.

The new cards, which many Mexicans already are using, contain a photo and electronic information in magnetic strips. Machines at the border can read the name on the cards and compare it to names on a watch list. But they can't read the information contained in the magnetic strip, including fingerprints, Strassberger said.

The INS hopes to put machines that read all the information in all ports of entry when testing at the six sites is complete. INS had wanted to get machines a few years ago but they were not funded.

The State Department has been trying to update the border crossing cards since they were mandated by Congress in 1996. The cards allow Mexicans to visit the United States for up to 72 hours for shopping, business or to visit relatives. Several deadlines for Mexicans to have the new cards have been extended. The most recent deadline was Oct. 1, 2001, which Congress extended for a year.

The cards are meant to fight fraud and forgery.


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INS: http://www.ins.gov