Press Release

Rep. Cuellar Creates Border Center for Excellence and Border Infrastructure Coordinator to Reduce Wait Times at Ports of Entry

Report Shows the Economic Costs of Longer Border Wait Times

Washington | Charlotte Laracy, DC Press Secretary (202-226-1583); Alexis Torres, District Press Secretary (956-286-6007), January 9, 2020

Washington, D.C. -- Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) creates the Border Center for Excellence and Border Infrastructure Coordinator to reduce wait times at ports of entry in the final spending bill. The Congressman secured key language in the bill that will encourage the GSA to establish a Border Center of Excellence in conjunction with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The Center will work to prioritize and stream-line the development of infrastructure projects and repairs at POEs that have received an influx of migrants.

This will be enhanced by additional language, secured by the Congressman, creating a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Border Infrastructure Coordinator to focus the efforts of multiple federal departments, along with Mexican government officials, on this goal.

“Our ports of entry at the southwest border facilitate trade and travel all across Texas and the country. However, the lack of strong infrastructure at our ports of entry causes long wait times, creating significant consequences to our economy. These delays cause higher costs on perishable goods, lost sales due to disruptions in our supply chains, and declines in economy activity from a decrease in cross-border trade and travel,” said Congressman Cuellar. 

“For this reason, I worked hard to create the Border Center of Excellence as well as the border infrastructure coordinator so we can better identify POEs in need of improvements and repairs, while better securing our southwest border and safely process asylum seekers. I also worked hard to secure additional funding for GSA, which will help allocate federal resources for infrastructure projects at our ports of entry at the southwest border,” Congressman Cuellar continued. 

“As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I am committed to increasing staff and improving our infrastructure at ports of entry to strengthen our national security and economic prosperity. I would like to thank Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey and Ranking Member Kay Granger, as well as Financial Services Subcommittee Chairman Mike Quigley, in addition to Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee Chairman David Price and Ranking Member Mario Diaz-Balart, for recognizing these priorities.”

Creating the Border Center for Excellence

GSA is tasked with allocating all funding for individual projects requiring major repairs and alterations, including infrastructure projects at southwest border ports of entry. The Congressman’s language would establish a GSA Center of Excellence to operate in conjunction with CBP officials, in order to identify and work to improve POEs.

To read Congressman Cuellar’s report language in the final spending bill on the Border Center for Excellence, click here.

 Creating the Border Infrastructure Coordinator

Additionally, to better facilitate the movement of trade and travel, the Congressman secured language in the final spending bill that creates an infrastructure coordinator position at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). This DOT administrator will work with officials at GSA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as well as the Mexican government, to expedite infrastructure development, such as repairing road and bridges, at the southwest border. 

 To read Congressman Cuellar’s report language in the final spending bill on the border infrastructure coordinator, click here.

Assessing the Cost of Longer Border Wait Times

The flow of goods from Mexico was drastically delayed when Customs and Border Patrol resources were diverted away from border crossings, according to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Longer wait times caused a decrease in cross-border trade, and a reduction in tourism and business travel.

 

# # #