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Border Crossings

The U.S.-Mexico border crossings are at a bursting point: they were never designed to handle the increase of goods and peoples that have turned a stream into a raging torrent. However, political circumstances and a lack of investment in infrastructure and development are preventing the widening and innovation of the channels that lead to and from Mexico and the United States. The FAST system of expedited commercial transit introduced in 2005 has done much to increase efficiency. However, with mounting border-security concerns in both the United States and Mexico, there is high demand for a joint venture to more systematically open the border to the transit of trustworthy goods and people in order to maintain the competitive edge of a free trade U.S.-Mexico partnership.

   In 2009, President Obama announced a $400 million upgrade of the U.S.-Mexico border as part of his economic stimulus package, with $269 million going towards upgrading the ports of entry and the other $121 million towards border surveillance and security. Meanwhile, in 2009 Congress approved a $550 million increase in the DEA budget for the Southwest Border Initiative. On the Mexican side of the border, Mexican officials are increasing their surveillance of U.S. vehicles entering Mexico to prevent the transit of illegal goods. Rather than pouring money into the current system, funding should be directed towards innovative and technological solutions to security problems that promote trade.

   While security against the illegal transit of goods and people is a paramount economic and domestic concern for both countries, an increase in security on both sides without an increase in bi-national cooperation or secure and visible supply chains will set into place a security structure that is detrimental to legitimate trade across the U.S.-Mexico border. This potential blockade of the U.S. – Mexico border represents a threat to the hundreds of billions of dollars in legal trade done every year. Costly, inefficient and slow transit will force U.S. and Mexican consumers and suppliers to rely on more competitive markets, such as China. To expedite the transit of secure and legitimate trade in commercial vehicles, the border should be the last line of defense, not the first.