Former BTA Chairman and Starr-Camargo Bridge Co. President Sam Vale testifies about importance of lifting border travel restrictions
WASHINGTON (June 16, 2021)—The Border Trade Alliance on Wednesday delivered testimony before the U.S. Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management at a hearing entitled, “Improving Security, Trade, and Travel at Land Ports of Entry at the Southwest Border.”
The BTA testimony was presented by Sam Vale, a founding board member of the organization and past chairman, and the president of the Starr-Camargo Bridge Co., which operates an international bridge spanning the Rio Grande and connects Rio Grande City, Texas and Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico.
In his remarks, Vale discussed the economic calamity that has resulted from the 15-month pandemic-induced restriction on cross-border travel deemed “non-essential” by the United States, Mexico and Canada. In his written testimony, Vale said the Border Trade Alliance could not support another extension of the restrictions, which are set to expire on June 21.
“The border communities are being devastated economically. The local governments are suffering,” Vale said of the restrictions that have caused border sales tax receipts to plummet. He added that cooperation between the Biden administration and its counterparts in Canada and Mexico could result in a “very respectable plan that allows for us to return to more normal activities.”
Vale thanked Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., for her recent letter urging the Department of Homeland Security to adopt a plan with benchmarks for reopening border ports of entry to full operation. The letter was co-signed by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz. and five House members representing both parties.
The hearing was convened by Sen. Sinema and Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., the subcommittee ranking member.
“The BTA and its public and private sector members appreciate Sen. Sinema and Sen. Lankford for convening today’s hearing,” BTA President Ms. Britton Mullen said. “Discussions like these are critically important to help members of both parties understand the unique challenges facing our border communities, which today are grappling not only with economically harmful restrictions on travel, but also spikes in migrant encounters that stretch the already thin resources of our DHS inspection agencies and local governments. We thank the subcommittee for working to address these issues in a bipartisan way.”
# # #
Since 1986, the BTA has served as a grassroots, non-profit organization that provides a forum for discussion and advocacy on issues pertaining to the environment, border development, quality of life and trade in the Americas. A network of public and private sector representatives from the United States, Mexico and Canada, BTA’s core values include a commitment to improving the quality of life of border communities through trade and commerce.