In 2014 alone the U.S. and Mexico totaled over $534 billion in bilateral commerce, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With well over $1 billion traveling across our southern border every day, 70 percent of that crosses via trucks, which means longer wait times at ports of entry is directly impacting our economy.
It is estimated that the U.S. economy loses $116 million for every minute of delay at the five busiest ports of entry on the southern border. In 2008, that added up to a loss of $6 billion and 26,000 jobs according to then-Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
A report examining the state of the border by Erik Lee and Christopher Wilson breaks it down like this: the infrastructure and capacity of ports of entry on the U.S. Mexico border has not kept up with the expansion and steady growth of trade on both sides. With the passing of NAFTA and continuous population growth, the amount of goods and individuals crossing has grown rapidly, only to be halted by longer wait times and ports unable to expedite this process.
In Arizona, a project called JWC (U.S. – Mexico Joint Working Committee on Transportation Planning) is trying to evaluate the practicality of using public-private partnerships to finance border-area infrastructure projects, including all nine of the state’s ports of entry.
Douglas has the second largest commercial port of entry in Arizona, but their capabilities are incredibly restricted due to lack of proper facilities. With an increased number of agents as well as more inspection lanes and improved technology, Douglas’ port could hit well above the $1 billion it generates per year.
In an interview with Tuscon.com, City Manager Carlos de la Torre said Douglas’ livelihood is dependent on the over 70 percent sales tax that comes from Mexican consumers in their neighboring city Agua Prieta. Wait times at the border literally stop people in their tracks from coming over and spending their money.