The El Paso Chamber sent a letter to Governor Greg Abbott suggesting modern solutions to enhanced safety inspections at international bridges.
Read the letter below:
Dear Governor Abbott,
On behalf of El Paso’s business community and the Chamber’s members, I would like to thank you for your work in creating one of our country’s most competitive business climates.
As you know, our community is part of the largest binational metroplex in the Western Hemisphere with a population of approximately 2.4 million people. Since the passage of NAFTA, international commercial trade at our region’s ports has expanded by about 400%. The growing commercial trade in our region, annually close to $100 billion in imports and exports, supports the local, state, and national economies – this number is expected to grow exponentially with the passage of USMCA.
Starting last week, since the state implementation of the enhanced safety inspections, the commercial wait times for northbound traffic have halted to a snail’s pace. Our region’s international bridges’ administrators report wait times that are over five hours long. This is simply not sustainable and harms local businesses and the region’s economy.
Our community is one of the safest in the country and has been for the past twenty-five years according to the FBI. However, we understand the history and perils of the crossing of contraband and believe that public policy should be pragmatic and tailored in its application.
To that end, we suggest the following solutions:
• A more sporadic inspection process;
• The funding of technologies that result in better security without compromising wait times (Texas Transportation Institute has concepts for these technologies); and
• Implementation of a pre-inspection process for known secure enterprises.
The reality is that the enhanced safety inspection program, as currently applied, is simply not sustainable. Our members who engage in international business report that the current practice is crippling supply chains just as businesses are trying to recover from impacts related to COVID-19.
The El Paso Chamber urges you to reconsider the current application of the enhanced safety inspection program as our local businesses report it is harming their operations and stymying their COVID-19 business recovery prospects.
Thank you for your service to the State of Texas.
Stephen Ian Voglewede, Interim President and CEO