EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Ahead of the observance of All Souls Day – Día de los Muertos – officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection in El Paso are once again reminding residents that certain agricultural items used in holiday decorations are prohibited from entry to the U.S. and can carry harmful pests and disease, such as the citrus greening disease. 

CBP officials are also taking time to remind the public of prohibited fruits that are commonly transported across the border by travelers during this period.

“Many members of our community celebrate with altars to remember and honor loved ones during these days of celebration. … We want to remind border crossers that there are certain types of greenery and citrus that are prohibited from entry. CBP agriculture specialists inspect all floral and agricultural items in an effort to prevent the spread of disease and pests and will be watching for these items in the days ahead.”

CBP El Paso Director of Field Operations Hector Mancha

Officials say a common type of ornamental greenery known as murraya or orange jasmine is often used in the construction of altars.  Murraya is a host plant for the Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri Kuwayama, an insect that can carry citrus greening disease and is therefore prohibited from entry into the U.S.

Citrus greening, also known as “huanglongbing,” is a disease caused by a bacterium that can infect most citrus varieties and some ornamental plants (such as orange jasmine); this disease was first detected in the U.S. in 2005 in the state of Florida, Miami-Dade County. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the disease has seriously affected citrus production in India, Asia, Southeast Asia, the Arabian Peninsula and Africa.

Citrus fruit that is prohibited from personal importation includes the following: oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, sour oranges and sweet limes. Other popular fruits that also are prohibited include guavas, mangoes, peaches and pomegranates.

CBP officials add that failure to declare prohibited agricultural items also can result in fines. Penalties for personal importations of undeclared, prohibited agricultural items, depending on the severity of the violation, can run as high as $1,000 and up to more than $250,000 for commercial importations.

The traveling public can learn more about bringing food items to the U.S. clicking here.

For more information regarding prohibited fruits, vegetables, prepared foods and other items, please consult CBP’s “Know Before You Go” guide link.

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