WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) welcomed U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) announcement that it has tentatively selected New Mexico Economic Development Department's (NMEDD) application for funding for additional hours of operation for northbound commercial traffic at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry (POE). The partnership is through CBP's Reimbursable Services Program, which supports requests for supplemental services at U.S. ports of entry to manage the rising volume of travel and trade that contributes to the nation's economy.
The Reimbursable Services Program allows the CBP Commissioner to enter into partnerships with private sector and government entities to provide new or expanded services on a reimbursable basis. Reimbursable services under this authority include customs, agricultural processing, border security, immigration inspection, and support services at ports of entry. CBP will work with the NMEDD to reach an agreement on the scope, development, and implementation of the program.
"I hope that NMEDD will work quickly to reach an agreement with CBP to extend the Santa Teresa Port of Entry's northbound hours of operation and grow jobs and business opportunities in New Mexico and the border region," said Sen. Udall, who serves on the Commerce and Appropriations committees and has long championed the Santa Teresa POE. "This partnership will help the region accommodate growing commercial traffic by reducing congestion and wait times. As a member of the Senate Commerce and Appropriations committees, I'll continue working with CBP to keep our borders safe and secure, and support bilateral trade that expands economic opportunities and creates jobs on both sides of the port."
"This would build on New Mexico's progress of being one of the fastest-growing states in the country for jobs related to international exports," said Sen. Heinrich who has long supported the expansion in commercial hours at the POE. "I hope CBP and the New Mexico Economic Development Department move quickly to finalize this partnership. A collaboration like this would increase trade, create new jobs, attract new businesses to the region, and diversify New Mexico's economy. I will continue working with CBP to boost interstate commerce in New Mexico and ensure we keep our border safe and secure."
Earlier this year, CBP entered into a public-private partnership with Dell Inc. to use the Reimbursable Services Program to fund additional hours of operation. As of January 18, southbound commercial hours were expanded to 8 a.m. to midnight--previously the port closed at 8 p.m. NMEDD's application for additional hours of operation for northbound commercial traffic is expected to complement the expanded hours that have already gone into effect for southbound commercial traffic at Santa Teresa POE.
Recent federal and private investments at the Santa Teresa POE and surrounding areas have helped expand and improve the efficiency of trade along the New Mexico-Chihuahua international border. A 2014 U.S Commerce Department study reported that New Mexico is the fastest-growing state in the country for jobs related to international goods exports.
In February, Senators Udall and Heinrich urged CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske to extend the hours for weekday northbound commercial traffic from 8 a.m. to midnight and allow 24-hour pedestrian and privately owned vehicle traffic.
Last year, Senators Udall and Heinrich worked closely with U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske, to advocate for Dell Inc.'s application to fund additional southbound commercial hours of operation at the Santa Teresa POE. As a result, current hours for southbound commercial hours of operation are now 8 a.m. to midnight.