Steps for a 21st Century U.S.-Mexico Border

Jun 8, 2011


The United States and Mexico share a border of nearly 2,000 miles, a cultural heritage, and a desire to grow both our economies through cooperation and hard work. The two nations also share an obligation to address a series of complex border issues. While immigration and drug-related violence receive the most attention, economic considerations such as trade facilitation, travel, and infrastructure are equally important.

Today, the Chamber released a new report, Steps to a 21st Century U.S.-Mexico Border, that proposes a series of solutions to these challenges. Most importantly, we must secure the border. No factor is more important to investment, economic growth, and job creation than security and the rule of law. It is encouraging to see the U.S. and Mexican governments working together to combat criminal organizations that subvert public safety, erode the rule of law, and threaten our collective security.

Strong border security need not come at the expense of free-flowing trade. Goods can be transported with the highest level of security by strengthening trusted shipper programs that ensure the integrity of supply chains.

To further facilitate trade, technology to better manage border bottlenecks should be widely deployed, and U.S. agencies with authority to delay or deny crossings must be better coordinated and held accountable for unnecessary wait times.

In addition, we must add capacity at ports and increase the number of lanes at land crossings, including lanes dedicated for commercial traffic. The opening of three new ports of entry last year represents progress, but we still have a ways to go. Building the necessary infrastructure is going to take more resources from the federal government, but there is also a pool of $190 billion in private capital we can tap into if government would sweep away some obstacles.

Finally, we need to think hard about how well we are laying out the welcome mat to immigrants and visitors. Comprehensive immigration and visa reform could help substantially alleviate the strain on our border while adding to the economic vitality of our country.

Violence, delays, and other inefficiencies at the border cost the U.S. and Mexican economies tens of billions of dollars in gross economic output and countless jobs. The Chamber is eager to work with both governments, the private sector, and other stakeholders to create a world class border that will knock down these barriers and create new opportunity.

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