Joint ventures in trade, security and transportation continue to strengthen ties and advance trust between the United States and Mexico, CBP Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan noted during a forum on border issues Wednesday at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.
“The partnership and openness to collaboration… across many government agencies is as high a level as I have seen in my career,” he said.
The U.S. – Mexico border remains one of the most dynamic in the world. At least $525 billion in trade moved between the two countries last year, “a tremendous economic benefit for both nations,” said the Acting Commissioner. Working together, U.S. and Mexico support its integrated economy through joint programs that make it easier to move goods across the border.
Cargo pre-inspection, said the Acting Commissioner, brings Mexican customs officers and CBP officers together at Laredo International Airport, Texas, screening air cargo destined for eight airports in Mexico. The program eliminates a second inspection in Mexico, saving time and reducing transaction costs for participating carriers.
Unified cargo processing is another venture where CBP and its Mexican counterparts work jointly to clear cargo. The program eliminates separate inspections and has substantially reduced wait times to cross the border from up to eight hours to now just over an hour.
Acting Commissioner McAleenan cited the Chamberlain Group — a company that manufactures garage doors, door openers and gate systems at its plant in Nogales, Sonora, and averages close to 40 north and southbound trailer shipments each day. Through unified cargo processing, “Chamberlain has seen an 83 percent drop in border crossing time,” he said.
Global Entry is another program making border crossing more efficient. At least 98,000 Mexicans are enrolled in the program that allows prescreened travelers to bypass the line and use a kiosk to complete their entry into the U.S.
Disrupting transnational criminal organizations; stopping the flow of illicit drugs, money and guns; and reducing human smuggling along with illegal immigration are high-priority issues for both nations and the U.S. and Mexico are working together to address them.
Through a more comprehensive strategy combining trust and new, shared enhanced tactics to attack the whole supply chain, the U.S. and Mexico is committed to disrupting TCOs. They include maritime patrols, engagement with Mexican Federal Police and renewed efforts on stopping money and weapons flowing south.
Driven by U.S. demand, the market for highly potent synthetic drugs has eclipsed marijuana. Synthetics are easy to transport and very profitable. A kilo of heroin is worth about $80,000, but a kilo of the synthetic fentanyl is worth an astonishing $10 million. According to the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, it’s also up to 50 times more potent than heroin.
Many smugglers use e-commerce and commercial carriers to deliver those drugs, said Acting Commissioner McAleenan.
Trust and shared enhanced tactics to attack the whole supply chain go hand-in-hand and they’re essential to disrupting the transit of these drugs, he explained.
He added, “I believe we have the energy, capacity, ideas, urgency and, critically, trust to make significant progress.”