Building Strong Border Communities
Remarks as Prepared: Sept. 1, 2016
Good morning, everyone, and thank you. I’d also like to thank the Southwestern College for hosting this event. We really appreciate everything you have done to make this event possible today. Binational events like this one salute the friendships and deep respect that resonate strongly within our respective border communities.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) works closely with the Government of Mexico to ensure that our shared border and our border communities remain safe and secure – while lawful travelers and cargo can still enter and exit our countries efficiently. My first international trip as Commissioner of CBP was to Mexico, back in April 2014 – and I think that underscores the importance that I’ve placed on our work with Mexico and the significance of our ongoing partnerships.
As the largest law enforcement agency in the United States, CBP’s mission is quite complex, because we have to balance border security with facilitating lawful travel and trade. That’s why collaboration and partnership is so important. The Port of Entry Council for Tijuana-San Diego-Tecate is a great example of this – local, state, and federal officials from both sides of the border are working together to improve the three ports of entry connecting San Diego County with Mexico.
Mexico and the United States are connected in so many indelible ways – in trade, culture, and commitment to democratic principles. Our 2,000-mile border may separate our two countries, but over that border flows about $1.4 billion of two-way trade and hundreds of thousands of legal border crossings each day.
The two cities of San Diego and Tijuana share a deep and rich cultural heritage and have built a unique relationship – one that should be envied by border towns the world over. These relationships are vital to our dual mission, and they depend on information sharing; joint investment in border infrastructure; and security collaboration.
With nearly one million people legally crossing between the United States and Mexico each day, healthy infrastructure on our common border is vital. Through bilateral discussions, including the 21st Century Border Management Initiative and the High Level Economic Dialog, the U.S. and Mexico have made significant headway. CBP and Mexico collaborate closely on all kinds of trade and travel issues.
Here are some examples of this collaboration:
An innovative cargo pre-inspection pilot at the Laredo International Airport where Mexico customs officials pre-inspect certain air cargo shipments destined to Mexico.
- A pilot where CBP Officers and Agricultural Specialists pre-inspect certain agriculture shipments at Mesa de Otay destined to enter the United States.
- And last month, I announced plans to implement Unified Cargo Inspection – something we’ve been working on with the Government of Mexico, whereby CBP officers and Mexican Customs (SAT) would conduct concurrent examinations at the Mariposa cargo facility in Nogales, Arizona – saving trade stakeholders both time and money while increasing border security and maintaining the integrity of the cargo supply chain.
We also work closely with Mexico to address violence and terrorism. Our two countries agree that the safety and security of our citizens is vital. We have a long history of partnerships on this issue – most recently through the Merida Initiative and other commitments.
Our successes reflect the close relationships that we have forged between our agencies.
In fact, I can tell you that today, we are working more closely with Mexican agencies—including with the Policia Federal, as well as their customs and immigration authorities—than we ever have before to make our communities safer and prosperous.
It’s truly remarkable how much progress we have made with our Mexican partners in recent years—and Chief Castillejos and I are both committed to building on this partnership to make it even stronger in the coming years. In closing, I want to thank Chief Castillejos for his participation, and I want to thank the Southwestern College for their hospitality here today.