EL PASO, Texas – The recent death of an American citizen from an apparent heart attack while waiting for over 8 hours at a U.S.-Mexico land port of entry near Eagle Pass, Texas, underscores the dire consequences of underfunded and understaffed border crossings, the Texas Border Coalition (TBC) said today.
Local media reports that the 51-year-old man, along with numerous other commuters, endured a wait time of more than 8 hours at Port of Entry No. 2 due to the temporary halt in operations over the Christmas holidays. During this period, the man experienced a medical issue. Emergency responders from Piedras Negras, Mexico, promptly arrived on the scene, provided medical assistance, and transferred him to an awaiting ambulance from the Eagle Pass Fire Department positioned at the border. Regrettably, the victim succumbed to his condition.
“This was a tragic incident that could have been avoided,” said El Paso County Commissioner and TBC Chairman David Stout, expressing deep concern that there was an opportunity to address the situation sooner, but unfortunately, it was not acted upon in time. “Unless we address the issue of prolonged wait times at border crossings, incidents of this nature are likely to happen again.”
For over 15 years, TBC has stressed the importance of well-built, equipped, and staffed border crossings to control the border effectively, intercept lawbreakers, and facilitate legitimate trade and travel.
In a letter to the Texas border congressional delegation, TBC once again urged lawmakers to address the issue by approving $6 billion in funding to replace aging infrastructure and technology, along with hiring an additional 5,000 U.S. Customs inspectors.
The coalition highlighted the significant economic impact of border delays, noting that 80 percent of all border trade, primarily freight related to manufacturing and logistics, passes through Texas into other states.
The Land Ports of Entry Modernization Trust Fund Act, a bipartisan initiative authored by U.S. Representatives Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso, Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, and Tony Gonzales, R-San Antonio, holds the potential to significantly mitigate disruptions arising from extended border delays. The act proposes to establish a trust fund to enhance land ports of entry, procure technology, and hire U.S. Customs and Border Protection staff, with an oversight board to guide fund utilization.
“Efficient and secure land ports of entry are essential to facilitate lawful trade and travel while ensuring the safety of our communities,” Stout said. “It is paramount to have a well-equipped workforce capable of managing both unexpected surges in migration and the routine functioning of our land ports.”