Stepping Up Staffing and Infrastructure at Our Ports of Entry

Rep. Beto O'Rourke
Apr 26, 2018 · 2 min read

While our country still has real border challenges, we are living at a time of record safety and security at the U.S.-Mexico border. More Mexican nationals are going south to Mexico than coming north to the United States. Northbound apprehensions are at the lowest levels in my lifetime. We have almost 20,000 Border Patrol Agents, and we’re spending over $21 billion a year on border security.

We know that there are still people being smuggled into the U.S. and illegal drugs crossing into our communities. But the answer to these challenges isn’t building a wall or deploying the National Guard — it’s passing smart border policies that reflect our interests, our values, and the reality on the ground in Texas.

Today, I introduced a bipartisan bill with my Republican colleague, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, that would increase staffing and improve infrastructure at our ports of entry — the places where a significant amount of trade and travelers cross into this country.

Right now, ports of entry are suffering from severe staffing shortages and outdated infrastructure. That means long wait times for visitors, increased costs for businesses, and billions of dollars in economic growth left on the table. According to one estimate, by 2035 traffic congestion on our bridges could cost our regional economy $54 billion and 850,000 jobs.

More staffing and improved infrastructure at our ports of entry will mean less congestion for travelers; more safety and security at our borders; and more legitimate commerce and the jobs and economic growth that come with it.

Here’s how this bill will help. First, it directs the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to hire, train, and assign 5,000 new CBP officers and 350 support personnel at ports of entry. Second, it authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to make improvements at existing ports of entry and construct new ports on our southern and northern borders that will increase trade and enhance security.

That’s the right way to address the real challenges we have at the border, and it’s an idea that isn’t defined by party or geography. It’s why a Democrat from a southern border district and a Republican from a northern border district can come together to find common ground — because the people we serve and represent know that ports of entry are directly connected to the strength of our economy and the safety of our communities.

I’m going to continue listening to the people of El Paso — your ideas, your experiences, your guidance — on how we can fully capitalize on the enormous potential of our relationship with Mexico, and lead our country in writing border policies that reflect the best traditions of our state.

Rep. Beto O'Rourke

Written by

Official blog of the US Representative for El Paso, TX

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade