Columbus, NM – U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman today applauded the Obama administration's plans to construct a new $59 million port of entry at Columbus.
"This investment is good for our state in the short term and the long term. Replacing the outdated Columbus facility will lead to more efficient trade between the United States and Mexico. Additionally, construction of a new port of entry will create good jobs in the region," Bingaman said.
Bingaman also pointed out this new port builds on other recent efforts to improve our state's border infrastructure. Santa Teresa received about $10 million in Recovery Act funds to improve its facilities and the Antelope Wells port of entry is being completely rebuilt with Recovery Act funds at a cost of around $15 million.
In addition to improving infrastructure, the budget continues to invest in border security efforts, maintaining a Border Patrol force of 21,370 agents. The budget also provides funding to hire an additional 300 Customs and Border Protection officers to reduce wait times at our nation's ports.
The budget allocates $276 million for Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETCs). Artesia's FLETC, which trains Border Patrol agents, is slated to receive about $43 million of the overall amount.
The president's budget also includes $11.125 million for New Mexico Tech, as part of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium, which trains emergency first responders on chemical, biological, radiological, and explosive hazards. And it provides $136 million for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) to help states cover the cost of incarcerating certain criminals.
"I agree with President Obama that we must begin to address our nation's deficit. To that end, the budget proposal does freeze spending in many areas of the federal government. But I believe under this plan we are in a good position to continue strengthening security along our shared border with Mexico," Bingaman said.
Finally, the budget proposal increases flood protection in the border region by setting aside $31.9 million in the International Boundary and Water Commission's budget for construction, including $31 million for flood control and Rio Grande canalization.