Growing Our Border Economy
PHOTO: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich tours CN Wire Corp. in Santa Teresa, N.M., one of many businesses that have benefitted from the growing export-based economy in southern New Mexico, April 17, 2017.
I hope you can take a moment to read my op-ed in the Las Cruces Sun-News about the smart infrastructure investments we should be making to enhance security and bolster the border economy in southern New Mexico. I visited with business leaders this week to discuss the next steps we need to take to continue to enhance the region's competitiveness.
I will continue working to find concrete opportunities to create more jobs and grow New Mexico's economy.
United States Senator
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich
Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News, 4:42 p.m. MT April 15, 2017
Building a wall and making hardworking American families foot the bill through tariffs or trade wars is simply not a viable policy and doesn't reflect the security needs of our border communities or our economy. Instead of throwing taxpayers' money at President Trump's border wall, we should make smart investments to improve infrastructure on the border with the goal of enhancing security, improving transportation safety for local families commuting around the region and facilitating new lawful trade through New Mexico's ports of entry.
Over the past decade, significant federal and private investments in our border communities helped New Mexico's international exports grow by leaps and bounds. New Mexico has seen a 1,619 percent increase in goods traffic since 2006. Increased bilateral trade with Mexico has benefitted our state tremendously, as demonstrated by the creation of more than 8,000 new export-related jobs between 2009 and 2014.
I've been proud to work alongside business and community leaders to build public-private partnerships and secure millions of dollars in federal funds to facilitate lawful international trade with Mexico at our state's ports of entry. Investments in roads, inspection facilities, and industrial developments have made southern New Mexico an increasingly attractive location for export-driven companies.
On Monday, I'm attending the groundbreaking ceremony for the $86 million expansion of the Columbus Port of Entry in Luna County. I will also meet with the Border Industrial Association and companies in the Santa Teresa industrial corridor to discuss the importance of cross-border trade. We will highlight the positive impacts of major developments like the Union Pacific Railroad's Intermodal Terminal and the expansion of the commercial hours of operation at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry as well as the investments needed to continue to enhance the region's competitiveness.
Major improvements at our ports of entry and border infrastructure don't just help grow our state's trade economy, they also make our nation's border more secure. Improvements in inspection facilities ensure that U.S. Customs and Border Protection can better screen vehicles and people coming into the United States, and make sure our communities are protected from threats.
As the ranking member of the Joint Economic Committee, I'm studying how additional resources, including port of entry staffing, could address border delays and accommodate increased economic activity. CBP estimates that staffing an additional one to three booths or lanes can reduce maximum wait times by up to 25 minutes at some of the nation's busiest ports of entry. Adding 1,000 CBP officers at ports of entry across the country would increase economic activity in the United States by $2 billion and lead to the creation of an estimated 33,148 American jobs per year. This is essential for New Mexico, where our ports of entry are processing the second-fastest-growing goods volume in the country.
New Mexico business owners and workers who depend on trade and understand the benefits of growing exports for our state's economy are understandably nervous about the ramifications of the White House potentially souring our nation's relationship with Mexico.
We must remain focused on building on our recent successes and making sure New Mexico's growing ports of entry have the resources they need. This is a concrete opportunity to create more jobs in southern New Mexico. I will keep fighting for common-sense policies that keep our nation safe and secure and ensure our border communities in New Mexico prosper from their unique binational culture and economy.