Budget Cuts Already Affecting Border Commerce
Fri, 15 Mar 2013 00:06:00 GMT —
Hoping to increase import and export activity with Mexico, Cameron County leaders made a $6 million investment at the Veteran's International Bridge - the only bridge in the county that processes commercial traffic.We made the $6 million investment to expand the bridge from four lanes to eight lanes to allow commercial vehicles to have four lanes strictly for their use, Sepulveda said. That had been open for about a week and the feedback we were getting is that the waiting times had been cut back about 75 percent. "Despite the many lanes, the number of customs and border protection agents at Cameron County bridges has already been reduced. Sepulveda says it comes at a bad time. The approximate 1,000 commercial trucks that cross Veteran TMs International Bridge each day had gone from waiting one hour to just 15 minutes."We saw an eight to 10 percent increase in commercial vehicles and I was told that now because they only had to wait 15 minutes, it gave them the opportunity to make multiple trips," Sepulveda said.But now all that could be lost.This is economic blow is just one of the reasons why Congressman Henry Cuellar tells Action 4, he voted against the sequestration. He said border towns will be some of the most affected by the budget cuts, since they will lose local buying power and international commerce."The infrastructure won TMt be of much use because we won TMt have the right personnel and you have to have the right combination," Cuellar said.
CBP Official Statement:
In order to address the more than half a billion in budget cuts imposed by sequestration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection must take significant budget reduction actions. CBP will continue to make every effort to minimize the sequesters impact on public safety and national security, but expects that planned furlough of employees, along with reductions to overtime and hiring freeze will increase wait times at ports of entry, including international arrivals at airports, and reduce staffing between land ports of entry. Even with these cuts though, individuals apprehended illegally crossing the southwest border will still be processed as usual. CBP continues to evaluate further impacts of sequestration on our operations. Because the length of the sequestration as well as funding levels through the end of the fiscal year are unknown at this time, it is difficult to project the impact of the reductions on individual employees or job occupations.