Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, the second-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, met with various county officials Friday seeking to learn about the port of entry delays and other issues in Imperial Valley.
Through her daylong visit Sanchez toured the U.S. side of the border before meeting with county Supervisor Jack Terrazas, Calexico Mayor Luis Castro and other Calexico, IID and business officials.
She was then scheduled to cross into Mexicali and back to get a better understanding of the delays of the ports of entry.
Sanchez also sits on the Border Committee, so there’s the intention “to push to move the federal government to help out on the border issue,” she said.
“I’m surprised to hear from everybody that it takes two or three hours to cross the border,” Sanchez said before crossing to Mexicali. “Frankly, it shouldn’t take people two or three hours to cross the border.”
Expansion and renovations to all ports of entry are on hold due to budgetary issues, according to Terrazas, and for that the county is looking to fund expansion of the Calexico West Port of Entry with the help of a public funder.
Kinsell, Newcomb & de Dios Inc., would fund the $380 million project and lease it back to the government, Terrazas said. The project could start in as little as four months and take two years to complete, he said.
This public-private partnership plan was shared with Sanchez in hopes that she can rally support for it from other members of Congress, Terrazas said
“We’ll take a look,” Sanchez said, referring to the public-private partnership. The existing problem is that there are federal regulations that prohibit finding a solution to the lack of funding, she said.
Yet, there aren’t any laws that prevent the public-private partnership to take place, Sanchez said.
“Probably nobody even knows this is going on except the local representative (of Congress),” she said referring to the border delays and the public private partnership. Many of the members of the Border Committee don’t come from border communities, she said.
“It’s a good start,” said Castro in Spanish. “We need the support of her and the support of more Congress members and senators.”
Calexico Councilman John Moreno agreed with Castro in that the meeting had positive results.
“With hope she’ll be able to share our concerns” with the federal government, said Moreno. Besides the port of entry issues, Sanchez is now aware of how contaminated the New River is, Moreno said.
In the following months the county will follow up with Sanchez’s staff and give her more detailed information about the public-private partnership. But for the moment, the federal government action on the public-private partnership is unclear as far as timing, Sanchez said.
“We have to continue the lobbying effort,” Renison said, adding that in March county officials will have a series of meetings in Washington with members of Congress and the General Service Administration, among other agencies.
“Anything can happen,” he said. “We don’t know how successful we’ll be, but if we don’t do anything we’ll never get anything.
Staff Writer Alejandro Davila can be reached at 760-337-3445 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Locals seek help from member of Congress on border issues
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