For too long, delays and congestion at U.S. ports of entry have dramatically slowed down the flow of trade and commerce between the United States and its neighbors Mexico and Canada. The Border Trade Alliance has consistently called for adequate funding to help increase the numbers of Customs and Border Protection officers at U.S. ports of entry to facilitate trade and travel while ensuring our security.

The BTA, with the support of Senator John Cornyn and Congressmen Henry Cuellar, Michael McCaul, John Carter and other congressional leaders developed an innovative way for the private sector and local governments to supplement federal dollars in order to secure expanded services at POEs to facilitate cross-border commerce.

The South Texas Assets Consortium, or STAC, was formed specifically to contract with Customs and Border Protection under Sec. 559 and its predecessor program, Sec. 560.

BTA member cities Laredo, McAllen, Pharr, and Cameron County and the Starr-Camargo Bridge Co. are all STAT participants. STAC members have used the pilot program to secure overtime hours for CBP officers. This innovative solution has proven particularly beneficial during times of peak cross-border activities. The City of El Paso, also a BTA member, has secured an agreement with CBP to supplement resources at that city’s ports of entry.

The City of McAllen, for example, employed its Sec. 559 authority during Semana Santa in 2014. As a result of the pilot program that was spearheaded by BTA, we were able to increase staffing levels of CBP officers and therefore reduce wait times at POEs from four hours to two.

A study by the University of Southern California found the addition of just one CBP officer can inject $2 million into the U.S. economy and create 33 new jobs. This public-private partnership with U.S. Customs and Border Protection initiated by the BTA has proven extremely beneficial to our nation’s security and helped enhance economic competitiveness for our members.