By Mario Conde
The County Board of Supervisors heard a presentation by the Border Counties representative in a special meeting Tuesday.
Last Tuesday, the board heard the status update of current projects with the US/Mexico Border Counties Coalition, as presented by William Christian of Austin Copelin & Reyes, LLC. The group travels to all the 24 counties that are part of the Border Counties Coalition and give updates and takes recommendations for lobbying at the federal level. The Coalition utilizes the firm of Austin Copelin & Reyes to provide staff support to the membership.
Supervisor District 1 John Renison is the current president of the Border Counties Coalition. The executive committee is composed by Vice President Pat Call, Supervisor, Cochise County, Arizona; Treasure and New Mexico representative Dolores Saldana-Caviness, Dona Ana County; and by South Texas representative Jose Emilio Vela, Zapata County. The Border Counties Coalition had its origins in the Imperial Valley and was later adopted by the other counties in order to have a united voice in Washington.
Supervisor Renison asked William Christian what would be the role of the Border Counties at the next Governor’s Conference that will take place in Ensenada in September. Christian said that normally the coalition does not participate in these events but said that they could reach out to them and speak to some of their representatives.
The supervisors agreed that the main priority is to speed up border wait times that are causing the county to lose millions of dollars annually. Chairman Jack Terrazas that there was been a lot of lobbying to have more customs agents at the border entry to speed up the crossing and said the revenue generated by the border crossers in to the local economy will help offset the cost of the man power working at the border.
Supervisor John Renison added that he was informed that the port director will now be evaluated on how the efficiently they can speed up the border waits and have the Sentri lane only be a 15 minute wait. There is also a concern that now the pedestrian lane takes one hour to cross into the United States specially in this time of the year.
In the end, the board decided to be more proactive on the Border Counties Coalitions meetings and provide them with the study made by San Diego County Association of Governments where Imperial County is included and show the economic impacts of long border waits.