U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today requesting to extend the hours of operation at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry to 24 hours per day. Currently, the commercial hours of operation are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
"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 new hours of operation would be an incentive to bring and create new business in the region, and to draw individuals and families into the United States for tourism and shopping. The extended hours would also enable traffic that currently crosses in El Paso, Texas, to travel through New Mexico, thereby reducing the often heavy congestion and long wait times in El Paso and reducing the strain on Customs and Border Protection in the region. Additionally, extending the hours would maximize the job-creating impact of the recently completed infrastructure expansion at the port, which was made possible with $10 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Furthermore, the extension would take full advantage of the infrastructure improvements just south of the port, where there is now a paved highway running from Ciudad Juarez to the port of entry," the Senators wrote to Secretary Napolitano.
Senators Heinrich and Udall also noted in the letter that extending the Border Commercial Zone from 25 miles to 55 miles in New Mexico would allow Mexicans who have been security-screened by DHS to travel along the Interstate-10 corridor of New Mexico to shop and conduct business as a way to bolster economic activity in the region. Expanding the Border Commercial Zone could have an economic impact of up $51 million in sales for New Mexico.
Earlier this month, Senator Heinrich toured the Santa Teresa Port of Entry and met with immigration advocates and business organizations, including the Border Industrial Association where he discussed security and economic opportunities for the region.
In 2010, Senator Udall helped secure $10 million in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to make infrastructure improvements at the Port. In October of last year, Sen. Udall received a briefing on the continued importance of trade at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry by economic development groups including the Border Industrial Association, International Business Accelerator, New Mexico Border Authority and the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance at the Santa Teresa Country Club.