By Mario Conde
Imperial Valley’s representative at the State Senate was here this weekend to meet with local stakeholders.
State Senator Ben Hueso was in Calexico Friday and Saturday where he met with Neighborhood House officials where he was shown the programs they have and made a tour to the businesses that have benefited from the Micro Business Program that has Neighborhood House offers. Hueso told the Calexico Chronicle that supporting small businesses will be one of his priorities.
“I want partner the State with the Small Business Development Centers.” Hueso said, “California always gets beat up for not being business friendly and chasing out businesses out of the State but very quietly and almost with no recognition, Small Business Development Centers are starting business every day. We always hear about big businesses moving from California but not about the 300 hundred businesses that move into the State.” he said.
Hueso also spoke about legislation being worked right now to have Enhanced Drivers Licenses that could be used to speed up border wait times. The bill has strong bi-partisan support since it will allow the State to participate on the Federal program that already has this technology integrated into all border crossings.
“Shorter wait times will allow people to travel more and would want to trade more. We are not taking advantage of the partnerships with the growing industry in Mexico and that has an effect on our side since it brings job creation and starting entrepreneurship opportunities.”
The EDL is a standard driver’s license that can also be used as a cross-border travel document to enter the U.S. by land and sea. It securely denotes both identity and citizenship, per the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Participation in this program would be voluntary. The states of Michigan, New York, Vermont and Washington have implemented this program successfully.
EDL’s could decrease border wait times by at least 30 minutes and encourage people to travel from Mexico into California using CBP’s “Ready Lanes”. As more travelers obtain RFID-enabled travel documents, CBP converts more vehicle lanes into “Ready Lanes”.
Hueso added the he hopes that the federal government also pushes for shorter wait times and said it would be a travesty for the federal government not to see the wisdom in improving border crossing times since it will improve the quality of life in California and it will be a huge boom for the economy.
“No other investment that they can make, in any other area, yields the returns that investing in border crossing does.” Hueso said.
Other projects that Hueso would like to see during his term in office is having more bi-national cooperation between California and Baja California and also see more cooperation between sisters cities along the border in order to strengthen cooperation and more cultural exchange between the entities.
Hueso had other activities last weekend as he attended meetings and events in El Centro and Brawley.
By Mario Conde