WASHINGTON, D.C. (KVEO NEWS CENTER 23) — Earlier this week, Congressmen Filemon Vela (D-Tex) and Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz) sent a letter to President Obama applauding his recent statements urging a plan for comprehensive immigration reform and his continued leadership on the issue.
In the letter, Reps. Vela and Grijalva urge the President to adopt a common-sense plan that emphasizes legal trade and travel between the U.S. and Mexico:
“As border residents ourselves, we have seen security procedures implemented with little regard for legitimate trade and travel across our Southwestern border. U.S. citizens, legal residents, tourists, visitors and truckloads of perishable cargo wait for hours at the border each day, needlessly costing us jobs and money.”
The letter continues, urging the President to focus border security resources on 3 main areas:
1. Increasing the Customs and Border Protection Workforce:
“Since 2003, the U.S. Border Patrol has doubled in size and now employs more than 21,000 agents. The budget for CBP (Customs and Border Protection) personnel has seen a very modest boost in comparison.
“This imbalance compromises our national and economic security. Our POEs (Points of Entry) are severely understaffed. The San Luis Port of Entry remains at its 2010 staffing level despite opening a new port, two new SENTRI lanes and two new car lanes in the past two years. At the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, $200 million has been invested to expand the crossing without any new funding for staff.”
2. Port of Entry Infrastructure Improvements:
“While trade between the United States and Mexico has increased more than 600 percent since 1990, infrastructure improvements at our ports of entry have not kept pace with growing demand for modern facilities. With two-way trade reaching a record $500 billion in 2011, inadequate infrastructure makes businesses less efficient, hurting job creation and stunting our economic recovery.”
3. Streamline Administration of Border Investment:
“Finally, in order to best utilize additional CBP personnel and new investments in infrastructure, our border policy must be streamlined.”
The letter concludes,
“Overall border security continues to improve and cities along the U.S.-Mexico border are some of the safest in the nation, but POEs have not experienced improvements on par with between-ports enforcement. We urge you to pursue a balanced approach to border security that provides for a safer and more prosperous border.”
Congressmen Vela and Grijalva are Co-Chairs of the Congressional Border Caucus, a coalition