US to reopen consulate in Mexican border city after completing review of security protocols

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The U.S. consulate in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez will reopen after closing for two working days for a review of security threats, officials said Monday.

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the consulate will open Tuesday. He did not provide any details on the outcome of the review or the security threat that prompted the unexpected closure on Friday and Monday.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman said there would be no comment on whether security had been increased.

It was the most drastic measure the State Department has taken to keep its consulate employees safe in increasingly violent Mexican border cities.

The shutdown came four months after drug gangs killed three people tied to the consulate, and two weeks after cartels detonated the first successful car bombing against Mexican security forces in Ciudad Juarez. The city across the border from El Paso, Texas is one of the world's most dangerous, with more than 4,000 people killed there since the beginning of 2009.

Hundreds of Mexicans were forced to postpone appointments for visa applications and other services. The consulate in Ciudad Juarez is the only place that processes immigrant visas in Mexico.

The U.S. Embassy said it would reschedule appointments for visa applications through its call center, and provided a number that U.S. citizens could call for passport appointment and other services.

The Ciudad Juarez consulate processed 124,145 immigrant visa applications in 2009, plus about 120,000 travel visas, the state department said.

The U.S. State Department has taken several measures over the past months to protect consulate employees and their families. The Consul General in Monterrey said last week it is restricting American employees and their families from traveling outside San Pedro Garza Garcia, where they live, between midnight and 6 a.m.