Udall, Heinrich Urge Extended Hours of Operation at Santa Teresa Port of Entry

Additional northbound hours would help expand trade and economic opportunity in fast-growing area

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich wrote to the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) urging him to extend the hours of operation for northbound commercial traffic at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry (POE) and publicize recently extended southbound hours.

In their letter to Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske, the senators requested that CBP extend the hours for weekday northbound commercial traffic from 8 a.m. to midnight and allow 24-hour pedestrian and privately owned vehicle traffic. The area has already gained a reputation as a fast-growing international trade center, and additional capacity would expand economic opportunities on both sides of the port, the senators wrote.

“The additional capacity would help increase bilateral trade, grow our economy, and create new jobs…and would also enable traffic that currently crosses in El Paso, Texas, to travel through New Mexico, thereby reducing heavy congestion and long wait times,” the senators wrote. “Moreover, an extension would take full advantage of the infrastructure improvements just south of the port, where there is now a paved highway running from Ciudad Juárez to the port of entry.”

The changes would be in addition to expanded hours that have already gone into effect for southbound commercial traffic at the port. CBP recently entered into a public-private partnership with Dell Inc. to use the Reimbursable Services Program to fund additional hours of operation. As of Jan. 18, southbound commercial hours are expanded to 8 a.m. to midnight — previously the port closed at 8 p.m. Although the agreement is with Dell, any commercial carrier can take advantage of the extended export hours while the arrangement is in place, and the senators encouraged CBP to update its informational materials to inform the public about the change. Udall and Heinrich further urged that CBP make the extension permanent when the agreement with Dell ends.

“Recent federal and private investments at the Santa Teresa POE and surrounding areas have helped expand and improve the efficiency of trade along the New Mexico-Chihuahua international border. Additionally, a 2014 U.S Commerce Department study reported that New Mexico led all U.S. states in goods export percentage growth to Mexico and is the fastest-growing state in the country for jobs related to international exports,” the senators wrote. “To build on this momentum, we must ensure efficient trade along the border, ease future flow of traffic in the years to come, and keep our ports of entry operating at full capacity.”

The senators’ full letter is available HERE and below.

The Honorable R. Gil Kerlikowske
Commissioner
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Department of Homeland Security
1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20229

Dear Commissioner Kerlikowske:

Thank you for your continued leadership of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Recently, the agency’s agreement to enter into a public-private partnership with Dell, Inc. to fund additional hours of operation for south-bound commercial traffic went into effect at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry (POE). To encourage businesses to take advantage of extended hours, we would appreciate that all CBP informational materials reflect this change and be made available to the public. Southern New Mexico is a fast-growing international trade center, and this additional capacity allows it to continue to expand.

Recent federal and private investments at the Santa Teresa POE surrounding areas have helped expand and improve the efficiency of trade along the New Mexico-Chihuahua international border. Additionally, a 2014 U.S Commerce Department study reported that New Mexico led all U.S. states in goods export percentage growth to Mexico and is the fastest-growing state in the country for jobs related to international exports.

To build on this momentum, we must ensure efficient trade along the border, ease future flow of traffic in the years to come, and keep our ports of entry operating at full capacity. To this end, we respectfully request that you extend the weekday hours of operation for north-bound commercial traffic to align with the recent expansion of south-bound hours. We also ask that, upon the termination of the public-private partnership with Dell, CBP permanently extend both north-bound and south-bound commercial hours from 8 a.m. until midnight on weekdays. Finally, we request that hours be extended to 24 hours per day for pedestrian and privately owned vehicle (POV) traffic and that you work with the Mexican government to ensure it maintains corresponding hours.

Extending the hours at Santa Teresa POE would create numerous benefits for the border region and nation. The additional capacity would help increase bilateral trade, grow our economy, and create new jobs. The extended hours would also enable traffic that currently crosses in El Paso, Texas, to travel through New Mexico, thereby reducing heavy congestion and long wait times. Moreover, an extension would take full advantage of the infrastructure improvements just south of the port, where there is now a paved highway running from Ciudad Juárez to the port of entry.

Thank you again for your commitment to our nation’s borders. We look forward to continuing to work with you and CBP to keep our nation safe and secure and to ensure our border communities in New Mexico prosper from their unique bi-national culture and economy.

Sincerely,

Tom Udall, United States Senator
Martin Heinrich, United States Senator