Deputy secretary makes first visit to Valley since being sworn into office

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POSTED: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 4:58pm

UPDATED: Thursday, February 20, 2014 - 9:30am

This morning, Homeland Security deputy secretary Alejandro Mayorkas experienced a firsthand look at what U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers go through on a daily basis.

Mayorkas comes to the Valley straight from his stop in Laredo where officials announced funds to expand facilities at their international bridge. 

As to whether or not bridges here will also receive funding, nothing is confirmed at this time.

"We certainly have goals and objectives for that," explained Mayorkas.  "We want to improve our capabilities to ease trade and travel while maintaining the security and safeguarding, that's something that we have under review and that we're working."

McAllen mayor Jim Darling was with Mayorkas during his tour of the Anzalduas bridge and says he is optimistic about the likelihood that funding will make its way to this area.

"He was listening, you know he was really observing and listening," Darling said of Mayorkas.  "I think he gets the special challenges that we have down here, and hopefully that will result in some action from Washington."

Darling says back to back visits from Homeland Security staff is unprecedented and hopes this attention to the Valley will result in additional resources.

"We depend on northern Mexico for a lot of our sales tax for instance, and they're our neighbors and friends," said Darling.  "So hopefully we'll get more personnel, more money to accommodate the needs for our border crossings."

An $8 million project is in the works to add two more lanes at the Anzalduas bridge.  Work on that project is expected to start later this year.

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