Bor­der walls use­ful in places, but not ev­ery­where

Albuquerque Journal - - BUSINESS OUTLOOK - Jerry Pacheco

It’s al­ways ex­cit­ing for me to see the im­pres­sive flow of trade here at the bor­der be­tween Mex­ico and the U.S. Amer­i­can­made prod­ucts, both in­ter­me­di­ate and fin­ished, cross south to go to Mex­i­can pro­duc­tion plants and distrib­u­tors. Mex­i­can­made fin­ished prod­ucts and com­po­nents cue at the ports of en­try to en­ter the U.S. I look out my of­fice win­dow and I see U.S. truck driv­ers se­cur­ing their loads to trans­port steel to Mex­i­can plants. A truck from an HVAC com­pany whizzes by to fix a heat­ing sys­tem on one of the big pro­duc­tion plants. The restau­rant in my build­ing is re­ceiv­ing a ship­ment of fresh pro­duce, which will be­come lunch for work­ers gen­er­at­ing prod­ucts in the in­dus­trial park for Mex­i­can buy­ers. I love watch­ing the buzz and com­mo­tion of all of this hap­pen­ing at the same time. This cross­bor­der com­merce is cre­at­ing bet­ter fu­tures for mil­lions of Amer­i­cans and Mex­i­cans.

Maybe this is why I am start­ing to get frus­trated when peo­ple not liv­ing or work­ing on the bor­der con­tin­u­ously ask me, “How’s that wall go­ing to af­fect you on the bor­der if it ever gets built?” It is a fair and com­mon ques­tion, given the rhetoric com­ing out of the White House and Congress about bor­der se­cu­rity and the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing fund­ing for a bor­der-long wall. I con­stantly tell peo­ple that in Santa Teresa, we share the same wall that stretches from west Texas to a point ap­prox­i­mately 20 miles west of the Santa Teresa Port of En­try. It is tall, sturdy and im­pos­ing. There are lanes in the wall at the port that al­low both com­mer­cial and pri­vate­ly­op­er­ated ve­hi­cles to go north and south into Mex­ico and the U.S. We have had this large struc­ture for the bet­ter part of two decades, although the 20-mile ex­ten­sion of this wall west of the port was just com­pleted with preTrump Ad­min­is­tra­tion fund­ing this past year.

Walls are needed on the bor­der to se­cure the le­gal cross­ing of peo­ple and goods be­tween Mex­ico and the U.S. How­ever, a wall does not make sense the en­tire length of the bor­der, which is ob­vi­ous to any­body who lives or works along the bor­der. It is def­i­nitely needed in ur­ban ar­eas, to al­low Bor­der Pa­trol of­fi­cials ex­tra time to ap­pre­hend il­le­gal wall crossers be­fore they as­sim­i­late into a large pop­u­la­tion base where they can hide. It doesn’t make sense in the mid­dle of the desert, where Bor­der Pa­trol agents and sen­sors can spot il­le­gal crossers and still have time for in­ter­dic­tion.

The fed­eral govern­ment re­ports time and time again that most drugs and il­le­gal crossers are com­ing through of­fi­cial ports of en­try, hid­den in ve­hi­cle com­part­ments or car­ried by a crosser, not in un­guarded ar­eas that cur­rently don’t have a wall. My of­fice is lo­cated just north of the Santa Teresa Port of En­try. I work and travel all around the Santa Teresa in­dus­trial base with my staff ev­ery day. In my 28 years of work­ing in the Santa Teresa in­dus­trial base, I have seen one per­son in my park who ap­peared to be il­le­gally in the coun­try, run­ning across the rail­road tracks with Bor­der Pa­trol agents on ATVs in hot pur­suit. There are not hordes of peo­ple in my re­gion that are breach­ing the bor­der and swarm­ing into the U.S. Yes, there are hun­dreds of asy­lum seek­ers, mostly from Cen­tral Amer­ica, who are ap­proach­ing the bor­der, but they are gen­er­ally giv­ing them­selves up at ports of en­try to the ca­pa­ble hands of the Bor­der Pa­trol.

I do re­al­ize that cer­tain parts of the bor­der have a big­ger prob­lem with il­le­gal crossers, and they prob­a­bly need a com­bi­na­tion of a wall, more per­son­nel, and sur­veil­lance equip­ment. The new­est tech­nol­ogy is needed to stay ahead of the drug car­tels. A static wall in many places is an anachro­nism and will pose no prob­lem for the bad guys. Re­source­ful peo­ple, many backed by a lot of money, can eas­ily go over or un­der a wall. Ul­tra-light air­craft

and drones can quickly fly drugs over a wall and drop them in the U.S.

Ul­ti­mately, more boots on the ground has to be part of the se­cu­rity equa­tion, and by boots, I mean more Bor­der Pa­trol and Cus­toms and Bor­der Pa­trol agents on the bor­der. How­ever, de­ploy­ing new agents is not that easy be­cause they need to be re­cruited, se­lected, trained and then given their as­sign­ments. They also will need pre­cious time to gain ex­pe­ri­ence to fully carry out the du­ties of their job. It is im­pos­si­ble to al­lo­cate a bunch of money to de­ploy more agents on the bor­der and ex­pect that they will be in place next month, or even next year.

A sound com­pro­mise, not rhetoric, pol­i­tics, or ca­ter­ing to a cer­tain base is needed. Bor­der com­mu­ni­ties were pro­foundly af­fected by the lat­est shut­down over the wall, and not just in terms of fed­eral em­ploy­ees who were fur­loughed or didn’t get paid for more than a month. Many Bor­der Pa­trol, CBP and other fed­eral govern­ment fa­cil­i­ties buy their wa­ter and elec­tric­ity from lo­cal bor­der mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and co-ops, most of which had to sell bonds to build this in­fra­struc­ture. Through their cus­tomers’ pay­ments, they ser­vice the bonds. If they don’t make pay­ments on time to the bond­hold­ers, their bond rat­ing goes down, thus mak­ing the fu­ture is­suance of bonds more ex­pen­sive, which is then paid by the cit­i­zens of those com­mu­ni­ties. Bor­der Pa­trol and CBP fa­cil­i­ties were not pay­ing their wa­ter or elec­tric­ity bills dur­ing the shut­down.

Bor­der com­mu­ni­ties must get the mes­sage to both sides in the fight that se­cu­rity on the bor­der can­not be framed in sim­ple black and white terms, and pol­i­cy­mak­ers need to work for the good of our na­tion. Jerry Pacheco is the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness Ac­cel­er­a­tor, a non­profit trade coun­sel­ing pro­gram of the New Mex­ico Small Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Cen­ters Net­work. He can be reached at 575-589-2200 or at [email protected]

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.