While border security has continued to become a more pressing issue for both the states along Mexico’s northern border and the Department of Homeland Security, parties see it different, because it is a multi-layered issue.
Not only does Mexico’s drug cartel war threaten citizens in both countries’ safety, the economic link between the U.S. and Mexico is a significant trade relationship and is crucial to many American businesses. Trade cannot be healthy without security, but outright militarization of the border hinders commercial traffic to a sluggish pace.
One way in which Texas is tackling the ease of commerce issue is with a new construction project.
The border town of El Paso has begun construction on a new six-lane port of entry between their city and neighboring Mexico. The new project is estimated to be a $100 million and will be about 30 miles east of El Paso.
The three-phase project, scheduled for completion in mid-2013, will replace the nearby Fabens-Caseta International Bridge, which has struggled to cope with growing traffic volumes from Mexico. Wait times to enter El Paso frequently reach two hours during peak hours.
“It is exciting to see this new port of entry take shape after more than a decade’s worth of effort,” said U.S. Representative Silvestre Reyes, (D – Tex.) who once was a former Border Patrol sector chief. “There were many hurdles that we had to overcome to bring this new bridge here, but I’m proud to see it get underway. It’s coming at a critical time for our community and will boost our region’s economy,” he added.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s data, trade between Mexico and the United States has reached nearly $185 billion so far this year. That is third behind our historically largest trading partner Canada and second place China.
Addressing the security issue, a new unmanned drone flying above the Texas skies should help security forces in their fight against the violence led by the drug cartels. Texas congressmen announced this week that Texas will receive a second unmanned drone by the end of the year, as granted by Homeland Security. Texas congressmen Michael McCaul (R-Austin), Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo), and Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in April to place two newly funded drones in Texas. Kostelnik confirmed Tuesday that Texas would get one.
The new drone will bring the total number of “Predators” patrolling the border with Mexico to six, with two being based in Corpus Christi, Texas and four being based Sierra Vista, Arizona.
“Technology is part of the long-term solution to securing the border,” McCaul said in a prepared statement. He said the additional drone in Texas “will provide both federal and state law enforcement more of the surveillance capabilities they desperately require to get the upper hand on drugs and human trafficking coming north and the guns and cash that fund and arm the drug cartels going south.”