MISSION, RGV – U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar has congratulated U.S. Sen. John Cornyn on Senate passage of the Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act.

The legislation encourages public-private partnerships to boost staffing and make infrastructure improvements at U.S. ports of entry. Cuellar is the lead sponsor of a companion bill in the House of Representatives.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn

“My district includes the largest inland port in the country,” said Congressman Cuellar, D-Laredo, pointing out that every day, billions of dollars’ worth of goods cross the Texas-Mexico border.

“South Texas is a world leader in trade, and with this bill we will be able to increase the efficiency and amount of trade passing through our ports of entry. I thank Sen. Cornyn for his help in writing this bill and congratulate him on ushering it through the Senate. I continue to urge House leadership to bring this up for a vote before year’s end and help to make it law.”

The Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act has been endorsed by:

·         The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
·         Border Trade Alliance
·         Texas Border Coalition
·         Rio Grande Valley Partnership
·          Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce
·         Cameron County
·         City of Eagle Pass
·         City of El Paso
·         City of Mission
·         City of McAllen
·         City of Harlingen
·         City of Pharr
·         Anzalduas International Bridge
·         McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge
·         Pharr International Bridge
·         Starr-Camargo International Bridge Company.

Some of the above entities provided input when the legislation was being crafted.

Sen. Cornyn explained that the bipartisan, bicameral legislation gives U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the General Services Administration (GSA) the authority to enter into “innovative partnerships” with local governments and private sector entities to boost staffing, make infrastructure improvements and speed up the flow of traffic at U.S. ports of entry without adding to the national deficit.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar

“A robust economic relationship with Mexico is critical to both the Texas and U.S. economies, and public-private partnerships can help boost legitimate trade and travel at our ports of entry,” Cornyn said. “Facilitating more efficient trade through our ports of entry will demonstrate our commitment to both growing Texas’ economy and the vibrant U.S.-Mexico relationship.”

Cornyn pointed out that as federal resources have remained scarce, port communities have sought alternate avenues to ensure essential needs are met. in the face of continued federal inaction. He said the authority vested in CBP under the legislation will allow the federal agency to better leverage limited resources to speed up the flow of traffic at international ports of entry. Partnerships with local governments and the private sector will support improvements to border infrastructure and enhance staffing levels across port environments, he added.

Cornyn’s legislation must be passed by the House of Representatives before it can be sent to President Obama for his signature.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this story shows Sen. Cornyn and Rep. Cuellar at a news conference at Mission City Hall in July, 2014. Photo: RGG/Steve Taylor.