LAREDO, Texas (Jan. 25, 2019) – Laredo Mayor and Texas Border Coalition Chairman (TBC) Pete Saenz today applauded the end of the government shutdown and urged President Donald Trump and members of Congress to reach bipartisan agreement on how to achieve border security based on the Texas Border Compact, a plan to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.
”The Texas Border Coalition applauds President Donald Trump and the bipartisan leadership of Congress in reaching agreement to end the government shutdown,” Saenz said. “We appreciate the president’s willingness to engage in bipartisan negotiations with congressional leaders to reach agreement on how to achieve border security.
“We urge negotiators to use our Texas Border Compact as a foundation for negotiations. The compact emerged from a meeting of TBC officials, President Trump, U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and local stakeholders,” Saenz added. “It is informed by our deep understanding as local government officials of the challenges that confront border communities and what works best to provide security for U.S. citizens.
“These negotiations should proceed as quickly as possible,” Saenz continued. “Texas Border Coalition wants the nation to know that local leaders working with our elected officials in Congress have the know-how and local knowledge needed to implement effective border security that meets the challenge.”
The compact is built on three bipartisan legislative pillars sponsored by Texas representatives in Congress and founded on bipartisan legislation recently enacted by U.S. Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas and Gary Peters, D-Mich.
The three pillars of the Texas Border Compact are:
- The bipartisan Secure Miles with All Resources and Technology (SMART) Act sponsored by Representatives. Will Hurd, R-Texas, Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, and Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas to require the deployment of the most practical and effective border security technologies to secure the border, in consultation with local stakeholders (including county and municipal elected officials), based on a mile-by-mile cost justification. The bill requires the immediate eradication of carrizo cane and salt cedar on the banks of the Rio Grande River to give Border Patrol unimpeded line-of-site to interdict illegal crossers.
- The bipartisan Border and Port Security Act sponsored by Representatives Filemon Vela, D-Texas, Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, and Peter King, R-N.Y., would require the hiring of 500 new customs inspectors and 100 new agricultural inspectors each year at the international border crossings, known as ports of entry until the total number of officers equals the requirements identified each year in the annual Workload Staffing Model; Homeland Security officials told Congress in 2018 that the department is 4,000 officers short today.
- A yet-to-be-introduced bill announced by Rep. Vela to provide $4 billion to modernize ports of entry to address the deficit identified by Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan during congressional hearings last year.
Saenz noted that border security is needed both at the Ports of Entry, where 90 percent of the hard drugs are smuggled into the U.S. and between the ports where most illegal entries occurs.
“At the ports of entry, we need the personnel, technology and infrastructure that will enable our customs and agricultural inspectors to more effectively achieve their goals of stopping illegal trafficking and facilitating legitimate trade and travel,” Saenz said. “Between the ports we need a Smart Wall built with high-tech resources like sensors, radar, LIDAR, fiber optics, drones and cameras to detect and then track incursions across our border so we can deploy efficiently our most important resource, the men and women of Border Patrol.”
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About the Texas Border Coalition
The Texas Border Coalition (TBC) is a collective voice of border mayors, county judges, economic development commissions focused on issues that affect 2.5 million people along the Texas-Mexico border region and economically disadvantaged counties from El Paso to Brownsville. TBC is working closely with the state and federal government to educate, advocate, and secure funding for transportation, immigration and border security, workforce development, economic development and health care. For more information, visit the coalition website at www.texasbordercoalition.org. Follow TBC on Facebook and Twitter [#TXBorderCoalition] to keep up to date on all of the latest news about the coalition and its activities.
Julie Hillrichs, (972) 971-0117