Advocating for a secure, reliable, and efficient border, the Chamber aims to enhance cross-border commerce which benefits communities on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. The Chamber top border infrastructure priorities are:
- Otay II Mesa East Port of Entry
- Otay Mesa Port of Entry
- Unified Cargo Inspection
- Cross-Border Railway
- Trusted Traveler Programs
The Otay II Mesa East Port of Entry is a binational project which will contribute to significant economic growth for our region and stimulate binational trade by providing secure, reliable, and predictable crossings with a goal of waits no longer than 20 minutes. This will stimulate binational trade and increase production sharing with more efficient supply chain linkages between manufacturers and market. In addition, the project comprises a commercial vehicle enforcement facility and state-of-the-art Intelligent Transportation Systems concepts and technology. Border crossers will be informed about toll rates, wait times, and special lane conditions at the major ports in the San Diego-Baja California region to plan accordingly.
The toll road collection will serve as the backbone for financing the project. Potential public-private opportunities exist to provide value-added amenities to enhance operational efficiency.
The Chamber has submitted a letter, and continues to advocate for improvements at the existing Otay Mesa Port of Entry and increased collaboration between Mexico and the U.S. to reduce the impacts of commercial traffic. Extreme congestion inhibits the flow of international commerce. As the main commercial gateway for international trade between California and Mexico, the trade growth in this POE has consistently outpaced the gross domestic product (GDP) since 2006, exceeding $42.3 billion in 2015 alone. Yet our region is far from reaching its full economic potential. Congestion constricts the flow of people and freight, impeding economic opportunities. Border wait times for commercial trucks currently take as long as two to four hours, costing the U.S. and Mexico a combined $7.2 billion annually in lost economic output and more than 62,000 jobs every year. The Chamber has additionally submitted a letter to support the request for funding for the Calexico Port of Entry.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) partnered with Mexico’s Servicio de Administracion Tributaria (SAT) to conduct joint cargo inspections to reduce waiting times at the border. The Unified Cargo Inspection Pilot Program kicked off October 2017, and seeks to enhance national security for both countries while demonstrating their shared commitment in facilitating cross border commerce by reducing the cost of doing business in the region. The Chamber applauds CBP for the pilot program and will continue to advocate for its expansion and permanence in order to increase cross border commerce in the Cali-Baja region and binational collaboration between the United States and Mexico.
The Chamber has also recognized the critical need of the reestablishment of a functional Cross-Border Railway for the region’s economy. Rail capabilities will reduce commercial truck congestion, air pollution, and travel time both increasing and facilitating the transportation of goods. Maximizing resources for this railway will undoubtedly result in a large economic boost and strengthen our region’s position as a competitor in the global market. The Chamber has facilitated cooperation between the city, state, and federal governments on both sides of the border in addition to the private sector representatives and lobbied key government officials on behalf of the cross-border railroad which facilitated significant steps toward the rehabilitation of the entire Cali-Baja rail system. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Pacific Imperial Railroad and Baja California Railroad in 2015, and a concession payment was made in 2017 to confirm the ownership of the Desert Line, connecting San Diego with Plaster City passing through Tijuana and Tecate, in Mexico. The Desert Line will increase competitiveness of the region while facilitating integration with regional border development.
Additionally, the Chamber has also worked closely with Customs and Border Protection to help update their Trusted Traveler Programs to facilitate cross border commerce. These programs allow the expedited processing into the United States for pre-approved, low risk travelers through dedicated lanes and kiosks at ports of entry and airports. Depending on individual interests and activities, the Trusted Traveler Programs allow members to travel between the U.S. and Canada (NEXUS); into the U.S. from Mexico via land (SENTRI); import commercial shipments between the U.S./Mexico or U.S./Canada quickly (FAST); or travel internationally and move quickly through CBP processing (Global Entry).
The Chamber strongly encourages the creation of a consolidated North American Trusted Traveler Program which allows members to travel within the U.S., Canada, and Mexico with the same card; removing new vehicle approvals for existing SENTRI/Global Entry users or conducting approval at local offices to expedite process; automatically register newborns under the caretaker’s account until the age of one to allow parents to process the required documents to properly enroll babies in the program; and allowing current participants to use the ready lanes during a change of status process (such as commuter status). These items were discussed with Acting Commissioner McAleenan on the Chamber’s delegation trip to Washington D.C. on September 2017.
On November 2017, CBP announced the expansion of Global Entry Enrollment on Arrival to 11 additional international airports, enabling conditionally-approved Global Entry applicants to complete their interview (the final step of the GE process) while clearing CBP processing. The program is currently available at nine new locations including the San Diego International Airport (SAN).
For more information on the Trusted Traveler Programs and/or to enroll, please visit: https://ttp.cbp.dhs.gov/