Congresswoman Martha McSally

Representing the 2nd District of Arizona

U.S. Rep. McSally Calls on CBP to Modernize Existing Port of Entry & Build New Port of Entry in Douglas

April 27, 2017
Press Release

TUCSON – U.S. Representative Martha McSally today in a letter called on U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan to accelerate the Douglas Port of Entry (POE) modernization project and to include the construction of the new commercial port of entry in their five-year plan. The Port, which was built in 1933 and last renovated over twenty years ago, has experienced a steady climb in activity and now accounts for nearly $4 billion in trade through two-way truck traffic.

“Last year, more than 1.6 million cars and 3.8 million people crossed into the United States from Mexico at Douglas POE. Additionally, Department of Justice statistics show that approximately 90% of the illicit drugs smuggled into the United States come through the ports of entry. Despite these economic opportunities and security challenges, the Douglas POE is severely outdated, overburdened, congested and woefully inadequate,” said Rep. McSally in the letter. “Security conditions at the border have changed and our commerce and tourism volumes demand a new approach so the POE is no longer the biggest obstacle for continued economic growth.”

Rep. McSally also urged CBP to prioritize the construction of the new commercial port of entry due to reports from both the General Services Administration and the Arizona Department of Transportation that the inadequate size and capabilities of the current Douglas POE will prevent CBP from carrying out its mission within the next five years.

“I applaud the efforts of Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations personnel who manage the port for doing the best they can, but this increased activity coupled with high volume pedestrian traffic can no longer be accommodated by the current port of entry,” Rep. McSally continued in the letter. “As such, the immediate modernization of the current port and the relocation of commercial operations to a new facility is the best way to meet current and future demands.” 

“Modernizing and expanding the Douglas Port of Entry will not only benefit Douglas and Cochise County, but our state and the entire nation by helping move goods from Mexico, one of the world’s fastest growing economies,” said Chairwoman of the Cochise County Board of Supervisors, Ann English, who represents the city of Douglas. “I thank Congresswoman McSally for her efforts. Since taking office, she’s been our biggest and strongest supporter and has made several visits to the area to see first-hand the need for this port of entry. I am thankful our community has her as an ally in Congress.”

“I would like to thank Representative McSally for her support in Congress and for pressing U.S. Customs and Border Protection to upgrade the Douglas Port of Entry in this letter.  Her support is essential in seeing this project move forward. The City of Douglas has put together a team of both public and private sector individuals focused on advocating for the need to improve the border crossing experience at Douglas.  Our port of entry is the gateway for billions of dollars of trade and millions of visitors and it is outdated and overburdened,” stated Robert Uribe, Mayor for the City of Douglas.  “We need to make it easier for our visitors to cross and shop in our stores, eat in our restaurants and do business in Douglas and Arizona.  After an initial assessment, we are now looking at both short and long term actions to make our border crossing second to none” added Uribe.

Background

Since arriving in Congress in 2014, Rep. McSally has tirelessly advocated to improve and expand the Douglas Port of Entry in committee hearings and in letters sent to CBP. She successfully pushed for Customs and Border Protection to include the modernization project in their Five-Year Plan.

To view a PDF of the letter, click HERE.

The full letter text follows:

 

April 27, 2017

The Honorable John Kelly

Secretary

Department of Homeland Security

3801 Nebraska Avenue NW

Washington, D.C. 20374

 

Kevin McAleenan

Acting Commissioner

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Washington, D.C. 20004

 

 

Dear Secretary Kelly and Acting Commissioner McAleenan,

The City of Douglas, Arizona and Cochise County are heavily dependent on cross border commerce and tourism for their economic wellbeing. Last year, more than 1.6 million cars and 3.8 million people crossed into the United States from Mexico at the Raul H. Castro Port of Entry (POE) in Douglas. Additionally, Department of Justice statistics show approximately 90% of the illicit drugs smuggled into the United States come through the ports of entry. Despite these economic opportunities and security challenges, the Douglas POE is severely outdated, overburdened, congested and woefully inadequate.

The Douglas POE was built in 1933 and last major improvements were made in the mid-1990s.  Over the past 20 years, the security conditions at the border have changed and our commerce and tourism volumes demand a new approach so the POE is no longer the biggest obstacle for continued economic growth. In 2014, the Douglas port of entry processed more than 64,000 commercial trucks in two-way traffic, a number that has been growing at an annualized rate of more than 5% per year since 2010. The significant growth in traffic is anticipated to continue over during the next decade. However, in 2007, the General Services Administration (GSA) determined through a feasibility study, that there is needed expansion. Additionally, in 2013, the Arizona Department of Transportation found that the current Douglas POE will prevent CBP from carrying out its mission within the next five years. I applaud the efforts of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations personnel who manage the port for doing the best they can, but this increased activity coupled with high pedestrian traffic can no longer be accommodated by the current port of entry. As such, the immediate modernization of the current port and the relocation of commercial operations to a new facility is the best way to meet current and future demands. 

During a Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee hearing I chaired last year, Eugene Schied, Acting Executive Assistant Commissioner for CBP’s Office of Enterprise Services announced that the modernization of the POE in Douglas was placed on CBP’s five-year land port of entry construction plan. I am writing to urge you to accelerate the modernization of the Raul H. Castro Port of Entry and to include construction of the new commercial port of entry in the five-year plan. 

I look forward to discussing the next steps in this process and invite you both to visit Douglas and see firsthand the shortfalls and deficiencies of the current POE and the need for a new commercial port.