WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 12, 2015) - U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) are inviting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske to visit the Santa Teresa Port of Entry (POE) and border industrial zone in southern New Mexico to see firsthand how federal and private investments in the Santa Teresa POE have improved interstate commerce and bolstered the region's economy. In a letter today, the Senators also underscored their support for Dell Inc.'s application to CBP's Reimbursable Services Program to fund four additional hours for southbound commercial traffic Monday through Friday at the Santa Teresa POE for one year.
"Our ports of entry not only help keep the nation safe and secure, but also strengthen the diversity of our state's economy," the Senators wrote to CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. "Southern New Mexico is a fast-growing international trade center, and recent federal and private investments in the Santa Teresa Port of Entry (POE) and surrounding areas have helped expand and improve the efficiency of trade along the New Mexico-Chihuahua international border. We invite you to visit the Santa Teresa POE and border industrial zone to learn how important these investments have been to the region."
During recent conversations with U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske, Senator Heinrich advocated for Dell Inc.'s application to fund additional commercial hours of operation at the Santa Teresa POE and emphasized how the public-private partnership will help improve trade, create jobs, and diversify the state's economy. CBP's Reimbursable Services Program supports supplemental requests for services at U.S. port of entries, while managing rising volumes of travel and trade that are critical to the nation's economy.
Last month, Senator Heinrich toured the Santa Teresa industrial corridor and met with officials from the Border Industrial Association and Santa Teresa POE. The visit also included a tour of the Union Pacific Intermodal Terminal at Santa Teresa to discuss the $400-million facility's economic impact on the region. The facility, which became operational last April, is a 2,200-acre rail site located near the Santa Teresa POE. It includes one of Union Pacific's largest fueling facilities and the railroad's largest intermodal freight terminal along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Senator Udall, who serves on the Commerce and Appropriations committees, has consistently pushed for smart investments in rail and transportation infrastructure and has long championed the Santa Teresa POE. In 2010, he strongly supported a $10 million grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which helped fund upgrades and expansion at the port. Last year, Senator Udall participated in the groundbreaking for Union Pacific's new $400 million rail facility. And in October, during a meeting in Albuquerque, he invited U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to tour Santa Teresa. During that meeting, Senator Udall provided Foxx with a list of priorities prepared by the Border Industrial Association detailing the reconstruction needs of Airport Road, Industrial Drive and Twin Cities Road to support Santa Teresa's continuing economic growth.
Senators Heinrich and Udall announced a $400,000 grant last September for the development of a bi-national transportation master plan awarded to the New Mexico Department of Transportation through the U.S. Department of Transportation's highly competitive Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant program.
Senators Heinrich and Udall have consistently advocated for extending the hours of operation at the Santa Teresa POE. In 2013 they sent a letter to then-U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano urging her to extend the hours of operation for commercial traffic at Santa Teresa POE. The Senators furthered this effort after introducing an amendment to the 2013 immigration reform bill to extend the commercial and private hours of operation for vehicles at the Santa Teresa POE, to help facilitate trade and enhance national security along the port of entry.
Full text of the letter is available below:
The Honorable R. Gil Kerlikowske
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington DC 20229
June 12, 2015
Dear Commissioner Kerlikowske:
Thank you for your commitment to safeguard our nation's borders and facilitate lawful international trade and commerce. Our ports of entry not only help keep the nation safe and secure, but also strengthen the diversity of our state's economy. Southern New Mexico is a fast-growing international trade center, and recent federal and private investments in the Santa Teresa Port of Entry (POE) and surrounding areas have helped expand and improve the efficiency of trade along the New Mexico-Chihuahua international border. We invite you to visit the Santa Teresa POE and border industrial zone to learn how important these investments have been to the region.
Federal investments to increase expansion and efficiency include a $10 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project to improve infrastructure and a recent $400,000 award from the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) highly competitive Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant to develop a strategic bi-national transportation plan for the region. Additionally, the completion and grand opening of a $400 million, 2,200 acre, Union Pacific rail facility and intermodal freight terminal in Santa Teresa has yielded tremendous opportunities to boost our state's economy and continues to make southern New Mexico a hub for domestic and international commerce.
Furthermore, we are pleased by a U.S. Department of Commerce study that reported that New Mexico's goods exports to Mexico increased from $800 million to $1.55 billion in 2014, representing a 93 percent increase. With this surge, New Mexico led all U.S. states in goods export percentage growth to Mexico and is the fastest-growing state in the country for jobs related to international exports.
To continue this 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. To this end, we strongly support Dell Inc.'s application to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Reimbursable Services Program to fund four additional hours of operation for south-bound commercial traffic, Monday through Friday, at the Santa Teresa POE for one year. We believe this partnership will improve local logistics, trade operations, and significantly contribute to New Mexico's burgeoning export growth.
Thank you again for your commitment to our nation's borders. We look forward to continuing to work with you and Customs and Border Protection to keep our nation safe and secure and to ensure our border communities in New Mexico prosper from their unique bi-national culture and economy.
MARTIN HEINRICH TOM UDALL
United States Senator United States Senator