Today, Congressman Beto O'Rourke (TX-16) and Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) joined community and business leaders for a tour of the international Paso del Norte Bridge to emphasize the importance that the efficient flow of people and goods between the U.S. and Mexico has on our local and national economies.
"El Paso and other border communities rely on cross border trade for their economic vitality. Each year, $80 billion in trade flows through El Paso's ports of entry and residents of our sister city Ciudad Juarez contribute nearly $1.4 billion to El Paso's retail economy. This commerce supports 100,000 jobs in the El Paso region and nearly 6 million jobs across the U.S. Since 1990 trade with Mexico has grown by 600 percent and continues to increase each year," said Congressman O'Rourke. "However, capacity at our ports of entry has not kept pace and despite increased staffing and technology, wait times are unacceptably long. Reducing wait times at our border is essential for our prosperity and our way of life as a cross-border community. As the representative of another border community, Congressman Cuellar understands this reality and I am honored to have his support as we work to find innovative solutions to some of these challenges."
"Having lived most of my life on the US-Mexican border, I understand the importance trade has had on our community. More than a billion dollars in goods cross the U.S.-Mexican border each day. It is our job in Congress to protect small businesses and reduce wait times at our land ports of entry," said Congressman Cuellar. "We must take action while we increase the flow of commerce and improve the security and safety of the families and businesses that cross over our bridges to invest in their livelihood and economic security. For these reasons, I thank Congressman O'Rourke for allowing me to join him in this pursuit to convert the Paso del Norte Bridge into a beacon of our prosperity--both here and at home, throughout the State of Texas, and the greater United States of America."
Congressman O'Rourke and Congressman Cuellar were joined by El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar, El Paso Mayor John Cook, Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce Chair Kathleen Walker, El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce CEO Cindy Ramos-Davidson, the Borderplex Alliance CEO Rolando Pablos, and El Paso Foreign Trade Association President Stephanie Caviness-Tantimonaco.
Background: Congressman Cuellar is author of the Cross Border Trade Enhancement Act, which Congressman O'Rourke has co-sponsored. The legislation would give Customs and Border Protection (CBP) the authority to enter into public-private partnerships with either local governments or private sector entities to fund the improvement of services and facilities at land-border ports of entry, with the goal of speeding up the flow of traffic at these ports.