El Prospero: Port drives local economy

By:  U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich

New Mexico’s border region has always helped drive the state’s economy. As the state continues to grow as an international trade center, our ports of entry, including the Santa Teresa Port of Entry, not only help keep the nation safe and secure, but also strengthen the diversity of our economy. To continue that growth, we must ensure efficient trade along the border, ease future flow of traffic in the years to come and keep our ports of entry operating at full capacity.

The opening of Union Pacific’s new Rail Facility in Santa Teresa will yield tremendous opportunities to boost the local economy and, with the nearby airport, help make southern New Mexico a hub for domestic and international commerce.

The high volume of commercial vehicles attempting to cross the ports along our southern border often make it difficult for Customs and Border Patrol to efficiently process all would-be crossers while also maintaining security.

Last year, as a way to address this issue, I wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and introduced an amendment during the immigration debate to extend the commercial and private hours of operation for vehicles at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry. This would help lead to more efficient trade between the United States and Mexico, grow our economy and create jobs.

The extension of the border commercial zone also plays an important role in the region. Last year, I was proud to work with DHS and the Office of Management and Budget to extend the border commercial zone to 55 miles in southern New Mexico. This allows Mexicans who have been security-screened by DHS to travel along the New Mexico Interstate 10 corridor. Increasing the number of visitors traveling to the region will help U.S. businesses and local economies thrive and bring in more tax revenue to the state. The extension was an exciting victory for the community as countless individuals, businesses, advocates and local and state officials fought for many years to get this done. Our challenge moving forward is to continue to ensure our nation’s safety, while balancing the needs of border communities to prosper from their unique bi-national culture and economy. New Mexico’s remarkable spirit is rooted in our diversity, history and rich culture, and I look forward to working with you and the rest of New Mexico’s southern border community to ensure the region continues to flourish.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you. I recognize that listening to your needs and concerns are key to building a brighter future for New Mexico, and I encourage you to always share your comments, suggestions and questions with me.

Please contact my Las Cruces office any time at 523-6561 or visit my online office at Heinrich.Senate.Gov if I can be of assistance to you and your family.

It is an honor and privilege to serve you in the U.S. Senate.