Washington, D.C.– Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi yesterday calling for greater funding at border ports of entry, citing the high economic costs of understaffing and a chronic shortage of infrastructure. Grijalva’s letter, available at http://grijalva.house.gov/oversight and reproduced below, points out that Canada and Mexico are the two largest export targets for Boehner’s home state of Ohio.
As the letter notes, a 2008 draft study by the Department of Commerce found the following: “Today, border wait times at the five busiest southern border [ports of entry] average over one hour, which result in an average economic output loss of $116 million per minute of delay. In 2008, these delays cost the U.S. economy nearly 26,000 jobs and $6 billion in output, $1.4 billion in wages, and $600 million in tax revenue annually. By 2017, average wait times could increase to nearly 100 minutes, costing U.S. more than 54,000 jobs and $12 billion in output, $3 billion in wages, and $1.2 billion in tax revenue annually. The cumulative loss in output due to border delays over the next ten years is estimated to be $86 billion.”
“This isn’t a regional issue or a state issue, it’s a national economic issue,” Grijalva said of the letter. “Imports and exports account for a great deal of our country’s economic activity, and making it easier for goods to get where they’re going will create jobs and increase prosperity whether it’s Arizona, Maine or Nebraska. This needs quick attention at high levels, and I sent this letter so we can get ports of entry the resources they need to help our working families succeed again.”
The text of the letter is below.
June 14, 2011
The Honorable John Boehner The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Democratic Leader
H-232, The Capitol H-204, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515 Washington, DC 20515
Dear Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi,
I write to you today to urge swift action on several critical priorities that will restore growth, spur
job creation and speed economic recovery for border communities and our nation as a whole.
Border commerce is vital to our entire national economy. U.S.-Mexico trade is a vital economic
lifeline not only for border states but for companies all over the country. Mexico is America’s
third largest trading partner behind Canada and China. At the same time, Mexico is the second
largest export market for U.S. businesses, and some states—such as Arizona—depend on
Mexico as their largest or second largest export market. Last year, U.S.-Mexico trade totaled
Trade between the United States and Mexico creates and supports jobs for millions of Americans
and Mexicans. Last year in Arizona, Mexican shoppers purchased over $2.4 billion in goods and
services, accounting for approximately 60,000 jobs in the retail sector alone. According to a June
2011 overview by the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, Mexico is
the second largest export target for Speaker Boehner’s home state of Ohio, accounting for more
than $3.5 billion in state exports. In the city of Nogales in my own district, the sales tax
generated by Mexican shoppers is almost $450 million a year, or about 80 percent of the city’s
total sales tax revenue.
These economic benefits are threatened today by a severe lack of manpower and infrastructure at
our ports of entry. A 2008 draft study by the Department of Commerce found the following:
“Today, border wait times at the five busiest southern border [ports of entry] average over one
hour, which result in an average economic output loss of $116 million per minute of delay. In
2008, these delays cost the U.S. economy nearly 26,000 jobs and $6 billion in output, $1.4
billion in wages, and $600 million in tax revenue annually. By 2017, average wait times could
increase to nearly 100 minutes, costing U.S. more than 54,000 jobs and $12 billion in output, $3
billion in wages, and $1.2 billion in tax revenue annually. The cumulative loss in output due to
border delays over the next ten years is estimated to be $86 billion.”
The growth of international trade has outpaced our ports’ workload capacity, resulting in
congestion and delays. This increased congestion hurts businesses that rely on safe and efficient
To reverse these alarming economic trends, a comprehensive set of options must be explored:
Expand Physical Infrastructure: Widen bridges and U.S. and Mexican access roads,
expand primary and secondary facilities, and lengthen dedicated cargo and FAST lanes.
For example, the San Luis Port of Entry (San Luis I) has long been one of the most
congested ports of entry along the entire U.S.-Mexico border. As early as 2006, I wrote to
the president and the General Services Administration stressing the need to fund this
project because of the tremendous growth on both sides of the border and the increasing
congestion that exists at this port of entry. Now, some five years later, the situation is
worse. In 2009, the outdated and overburdened San Luis I crossing processed more than
39,644 trucks, 2.25 million cars and close to 7 million people (including 2.5 million
pedestrians). Increased border commerce, low staffing levels and aging infrastructure
have meant our border crossers now routinely face waits of 2 to 3 hours in both
directions. The situation at San Luis I has become untenable.
• Increase Staffing and Operating Hours: We need to increase the number of officers,
agriculture specialists and support staff along the border in tandem with infrastructure
improvements. To take just one example, although the Nogales West (Mariposa) Port of
Entry is undergoing a $200 million reconfiguration program, Customs and Border Patrol
(CBP) does not have the staff to operate the existing facility properly, much less when it
expands by 50 percent later this year and again in 2013. According to a 2007 study by the
Government Accountability Office, the CBP model estimates a need of up to several
thousand more officers and agricultural specialist to operate its ports of entry nationwide.
Strengthening our land ports of entry should be a national priority. At this critical moment, we
cannot afford to slide backwards just as our recovery is taking hold. I know you share my sense
of urgency and look forward to working closely with you as we continue our job creation efforts.
Raúl M. Grijalva
Member of Congress
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