Congressman Juan Vargas (CA-51), Congresswoman Susan Davis (CA-53), and Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) were joined by San Diego business leaders at Camino de la Plaza Bridge to advocate for the completion of the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry Expansion Project and to highlight the negative impact sequestration has on Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
In 2011, the U.S. and Mexico agreed to expand the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry. Mexico completed their side of the construction and opened the new El Chaparral border station on October 31, 2012. However, due to cuts in infrastructure funding, the United States has not completed its side of the construction.
Rep. Juan Vargas, who has represented the border region on the local, state and now federal level, explained how crucial it is that we following through on our infrastructure investments and maintain the infrastructure already in place. He also delved into how sequestration cuts hurt U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
"The completion of the San Ysidro Port of Entry is critical to stimulating our region's economy and increasing border efficiency and safety," said Vargas. "Sequestration will have a devastating effect on the border region as it will reduce the number of CBP officers, drastically increase border wait times, and negatively impact our economy. As Mexico has already done its part, we need to do ours to ensure that the San Ysidro Port of Entry is fully funded so that our region and economy continue to prosper."
Last year, Congresswoman Susan Davis led a delegation letter asking the Obama Administration to provide full funding for the expansion project this fiscal year. Davis will continue her effort and ask the San Diego delegation to join her in sending a letter to the House Committee on Appropriations requesting funds to keep this project on track.
"Every car that sits idle and every person that stands in line for hours to get across the border represent lost opportunities to grow jobs and raise economic growth," said Davis. "Unfortunately, there's been too much unfinished business in this Congress and we need to make sure border investment isn't forgotten."
Congressman Peters explained that he and Vargas added their voices to this call for action by sending a letter to the president yesterday urging him to increase the Federal Building Fund in his FY2014 budget, so that the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry Expansion Project can be completed.
"The United States and Mexico agreed to this project because we recognize the role that the San Ysidro Land Port plays as an engine for economic growth," said Peters. "Members of the California delegation and our business community are involved in this effort because border infrastructure is critical to the entire region. The completion of this expansion project will decrease delays and spark economic activity. Mexico has followed through on its promise, now it's our turn."
Congressman Vargas, Congresswoman Davis and Congressman Peters promised to continue working together to fight for the completion of the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry Expansion Project.
The San Ysidro Land Port of Entry is the world's busiest land port, serving more than 50,000 vehicles and approximately 25,000 pedestrian crossings every day. In a 2007 study, the San Diego Association of Governments estimated that delays due to border wait times cost our cross-border economies $7.2 billion in lost gross output and more than 62,000 jobs.