Bilateral Executive Steering Committee for the 21st Century Border Management Initiative
The Bilateral Executive Steering Committee (ESC) for the U.S.-Mexico 21st Century Border Management Initiative met today at the Mexican Secretariat for Foreign Relations in Mexico City. The meeting was chaired by the U.S. National Security Council Senior Director of Transborder Security, Sarah Kendall and Mexican Secretariat for Foreign Relations Under Secretary for North America, Carlos Perez Verdia, and attended by senior officials from the United States and Mexico.
This binational mechanism meets regularly to discuss initiatives to expedite the flow of people and goods between Mexico and the United States and promote public safety and law enforcement cooperation in the border region. At this meeting, the ESC reviewed the progress it has made with its 2015 action plans, and agreed on the actions for 2016 through its three subcommittees: Infrastructure, Secure Flows of People and Goods, and Law Enforcement and Security.
Thanks to the hard work of agencies from both countries that compose the Infrastructure Subcommittee, we saw significant progress during 2015 that will positively impact the daily lives of millions of people in the border region as well as streamline trade between the two countries.
For example, in the Tijuana-San Diego region, our governments completed a new pedestrian access facility as part of the modernization and expansion of the largest land port of entry in the world, the San Ysidro-El Chaparral port of entry. This new facility allows Mexican immigration and customs officials to process increased southbound pedestrian flows in an orderly and efficient manner. Likewise, operations began on December 9 at the Tijuana Airport Cross Border Express, a unique project allowing passengers arriving at the Tijuana Airport traveling to the United States, or departing U.S.-based passengers wishing to board a flight at the airport, to cross the border quickly and easily with a cross-border pedestrian bridge and new U.S. terminal with transportation links.
Likewise, in the Texas-Chihuahua border region, construction at the Tornillo-Guadalupe International Bridge and Port of Entry has been completed, providing a new option for passengers and cargo in the vicinity of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. In the Texas-Tamaulipas region, the Brownsville-Matamoros International Railway Bridge opened in August 2015, removing rail operations from urban areas in Matamoros and Brownsville, improving road safety, reducing traffic congestion, improving the community’s quality of life, and increasing the commercial trade throughout this corridor.
For its part, the Secure Flows Subcommittee continued its work to facilitate the secure movement of people and goods along our common border. To this end, we continued the active promotion of trusted traveler programs in both countries: Viajero Confiable in Mexico and Global Entry in the United States. These programs are intended to streamline the flow of travelers, tourists, and business people across our border. We also continued several studies measuring wait times for passenger vehicles and cargo, with a view to establishing concrete measures to manage these flows efficiently and develop binational strategies for dealing with common traffic problems.
In addition, the governments of the United States and Mexico signed an arrangement formalizing the Cargo Pre-Inspection Program, through which customs agencies of both countries will conduct inspections of goods before they cross the border with the goal of increasing customs efficiency and capacity. The first such pilot program began at the Laredo International Airport in Laredo, Texas in October 2015. Additional pilots will be implemented at the Mesa de Otay Port of Entry in Tijuana, Baja California and in San Jeronimo, Chihuahua in 2016.
The Law Enforcement and Security subcommittee made progress in strengthening binational coordination for information exchange and establishing joint patrols to increase security in the border region.
Finally, the ESC agreed on an ambitious action plan for 2016 in order to continue ongoing efforts to strengthen cooperation in the border region, which is key for the development, competitiveness, and well-being of both countries.
The Border as a Key Region
Efficient management of the U.S.-Mexico border is essential not only for the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship, but also for increasing North American competitiveness and the prosperity of our societies. Approximately 14 million people reside on both sides of the border across the 3,150 km region. Every day, more than a million people and 300,000 vehicles use the 57 crossings between the ten states (four U.S. and six Mexican) along the border. The 21st Century Border Management Initiative was established in 2010 to promote the secure and efficient flow of goods and people across our shared border.