California congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) announced the introduction of a new bill on Monday, HR 3182, which aims to improve the infrastructure at the country's international border crossings. Peters made the announcement at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce's annual trip to Washington as this legislation would directly affect San Ysidro and Otay Mesa.
“Improving the infrastructure near our borders is key to both our economic growth and national security,” Peters said. “It is an economic imperative, for San Diego and the country, that we make these improvements. Inaction costs us billions of dollars in potential output each year – lost opportunities that we cannot afford.”
The bill, which was formally introduced last week, would provide grants to the busiest border crossings in the United States for construction projects to reduce border congestion, improve international trade, and end delays that last for hours. According to a statement released by the congressman's office, HR 3182 will create "a more efficient, safe, and secure screening process."
A report released by the San Diego Association of Governments found that the economic impact of inefficient infrastructures in the San Diego region alone costs $7.2 billion in lost gross output and more than 62,000 jobs.
“Funding for infrastructure and staffing improvements at the U.S.-Mexico border will ensure that we can move people and products across the border in a safe and effective manner," Jerry Sanders, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, said. "An enhanced border not only represents a tremendous economic opportunity, but will improve cross-border commerce, binational partnerships and tourism for the entire San Diego/Baja mega region and beyond.”
The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce lists 'improved border infrastructure and border crossing processes' as a key reform to improving commerce in region's economy.
Peters' legislation seeks to complement language used by Diane Feinstein in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill, which passed the Senate in June, but has yet to be addressed in the House. As lawmakers continue their standoff in the debt debate, immigration reform will likely remain an ignored issue in the U.S. House of Representatives.