RIO GRANDE CITY , Texas – U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar has provided the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service more information on his Land Port of Entry (LPOE) Modernization Trust Fund Act.
The bipartisan legislation has secured the support of the Border Trade Alliance and the Texas Trucking Association.
U.S. Representatives Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen, Tony Gonzales of San Antonio, Veronica Escobar of El Paso and Gabe Vasquez of New Mexico are co-authoring the bill, although the original idea for the trust fund came from Cuellar.
Cuellar said the legislation would establish a trust fund that would be used to (1) construct new ports of entry, (2) expand and improve existing ports of entry, (3) procure technology for inspecting and processing traffic passing through ports of entry, and (4) hire U.S. Customs and Border Protection staff.
The Department of Homeland Security would also establish the Land Port of Entry Modernization Oversight Board to advise DHS on how to use the trust fund and to review the trust fund’s expenditures.
“While waterway-based ports of entry have long had the benefit of a consistent source of federal resources via the authorization of a similar trust fund, our overburdened land-based ports of entry have struggled,” Cuellar said, in a news release.
“The LPOE Modernization Trust Fund Act is needed to properly redistribute much needed resources to LPOE facilities and to ensure the United States’ long-term economic prosperity through international trade.”
In his audio interview with the Guardian, Cuellar said he came up with the idea of a land trust fund.
“You have a seaport, there is a maintenance trust fund. Since I represent land borders, most of the goods and people come through land ports. So every year we have to add appropriations. I just don’t understand why land ports are treated differently from airports, and seaports.”
Cuellar said if he can get the legislation passed, the border region would “have a funding mechanism on a consistent basis, so we don’t have to go and keep begging for money for our land ports.”
After all, Cuellar points out, land ports cross the majority of the people and the goods coming in to the US. “Especially the southern border. If you look at the trade between US and Mexico, you’re looking at over $863 billion every year, just between the US and Mexico.”
In his news release, Cuellar added: “The LPOE Trust Fund will expand, improve, and construct new U.S. ports of entry and support infrastructure to accommodate high volumes of commercial, vehicle, and pedestrian traffic. It will also help critical transit and trade facilities more efficiently complete the inspection and processing of commercial, vehicle, and pedestrian traffic. I applaud my fellow border colleagues for working together in a bipartisan manner to support crucial investments in our land port infrastructure.”
Editor’s Note: The above audio story is the second in a two-part series on the Land Port of Entry (LPOE) Modernization Trust Fund Act. Click here to read Part One.
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