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Coalition leaders testify before Texas House committees on border ports of entry

Border leaders from across South Texas testified before the Texas House Committees of International Trade and Intergovernmental Affairs and Transportation on Tuesday on some of the challenges at the ports of entry.

Border leaders from across South Texas testified before the Texas House Committees of International Trade and Intergovernmental Affairs and Transportation on Tuesday on some of the challenges at the ports of entry.

Caroline Mays of the Texas Department of Transportation was one of the many who testified in Weslaco.

“I highlighted the challenges, but also the continued growth in trade and the role that port of entries, as well as their transportation system, plays in facilitating not just Texas- Mexico trade, but U.S.- Mexico trade,” said Mays.

Another key topic was border crossing efficiency, which entails infrastructure. Although a number of issues were addressed during Tuesday’s hearing, there were some things that stood out to House members.

"One of the big issues that came out of today's meeting was that there's really low-hanging fruit in getting a unified co-located inspection between Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and also Texas Department of Transportation (TXDoT),” said State Rep. Rafael Anchia of District 103.

Long wait times at the ports is also a concern, as members believe it will not only affect the Valley, but the whole state as the economy continues to grow. Those who testified shared some possible solutions to enhance the movement of goods and services across the border that include more staffing.

"We need better technology, quicker technology, that can detect bad things and, of course, more roads leading to those areas and expanding those checkpoints,” said Mayor of Laredo and Chairman of the Texas Border Coalition (TBC) Pete Saenz.

Members understand that improvements involve a huge investment, but considers the benefits it will have on the economy.

"Either you're going to invest in doing this or you're going to lose business to other states and that's just the bottom line,” said State Rep. Senfronia Thompson of District 141. “And when we start losing business to other states, we're going to start losing jobs.”

The committees will be taking the information shared to the legislature starting with the next session in January 2019.

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