U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin discussed the challenges of modernizing border infrastructure during a keynote address at U.S.-Mexico border affairs forum held at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, D.C., yesterday.
The event, Building a 21st Century Border: Regional Master Plans and Transportation Infrastructure, brought together experts on the future of U.S.-Mexico border initiatives.
"This is a chance to assess where we are and where we are going in terms of regional planning and border infrastructure," said Bersin.
"For so long the issue of border infrastructure attracted so little attention because nothing ever changed," Bersin said. "It was difficult to find financing in either country and it was very difficult, indeed, to find common planning. Most of the ports of entry were built 40 to 70 years ago and are simply not equipped to meet the needs of contemporary trade.
Bersin said that the current administrations in both Mexico and the United States have made it clear that the status quo was no longer acceptable.
"There is good news," said Bersin. "There have been some fairly dramatic developments in the planning area-thanks to President Calderon and President Obama. When they met in May, for the first time in the history of our two countries, they exchanged a list of bi-lateral border infrastructure priorities. As remarkable as it seems, we had never sat with our Mexican colleagues and exchanged a list of priorities in terms of border infrastructure. To President Calderon and President Obama's credit, three major points of entry have recently opened."
Bersin said public-private partnerships were vital to fund the projects necessary to handle the ever-increasing trade between the U.S. and Mexico.
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars was established in 1968 to commemorate the ideals and concerns of Woodrow Wilson by providing a link between the world of ideas and the world of policy.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.