The governments of Mexico and the US are investing to modernize the border infrastructure through technology that could help stop the transfer of weapons, fentanyl and money by improving the customs system via 20 key infrastructure projects.
Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard, US Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar and Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Todd Robinson held a press conference during the Strategic Border Infrastructure Forum. The gathering, held in Tijuana, resulted in the announcement of 20 projects under development along the border, 14 by Mexico and six by the US. The combined investment amounts to US$4.2 billion, of which US$700 million has already been approved for spending.
"This border is going to be the busiest in the world. For customs, we have asymmetrical technology which is not connected [between the sides of the border]. All of that will be remedied. The execution time of the works will be shorter," Ebrard said, adding that "We are going to increase our production capacity in many areas: medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors and electromobility. All this will move past the border, so we have no time to lose.”
Among the 14 projects is the Mesa de Otay II-Otay Mesa East International crossing, a new high-tech port of entry that is expected to decongest the system, as well as reduce inspection times. Furthermore, on the Chihuahua-New Mexico border, the modernization of the San Jeronimo-Santa Teresa Crossing and its access roads aims to provide an alternative to relocate the commercial traffic that crosses the urban area of Ciudad Juarez-El Paso. All of the 20 projects are estimated to start operation by the end of 2023.
Delays are yet another challenge the US-Mexico border is facing. In April 2022 alone, the Mexican Business Coordinating Council (CCE) estimated that following Texas Governor Greg Abbott's order to inspect all trucks and buses for immigration control purposes, the flow of trade between the two countries was delayed by 70 percent compared to the previous month, generating losses of around US$8 million per day.
Salazar reiterated President Joe Biden's commitment to transforming the relationship between Mexico and the United States. Part of that is to ensure that this region has "a border where people can walk from one place to another safely, where trade, which is the economic lifeblood between our two nations, continues… that the security that is so important to both countries increases," said the ambassador.