U.S.-Mexico Border Partnership Joint Statement on Progress Achieved
Otay Mesa, California
April 23, 2003
When President George W. Bush and President Vicente Fox met in Monterrey, Mexico on March 22, 2002, they endorsed a Border Partnership accord that was signed by Santiago Creel, Secretary of Governance, and Colin Powell, Secretary of State. This accord was accompanied by a 22-point plan that outlined specific actions that would be taken to create a smart border for the 21st century, one that embraces technology and enhanced bilateral cooperation to ensure the secure flow of people and goods and the development of a secure and sufficient infrastructure necessary to facilitate the growing trade between Mexico and the United States, to promote legitimate travel across the border, and to protect against crime and terrorism.
Respecting the sovereignty of each party and in light of the principle of mutual responsibility, various agencies and departments in our two countries have worked hard - in conjunction with state and local governments and private-sector stakeholders - to achieve the aims of this plan. We are pleased with the tremendous progress achieved over the past year. Yet, we are just at the initial steps; there is more to be done. We must work to reduce bottlenecks and crossing delays for the legitimate flow of people and goods; we must work to strengthen our countries' national security; we must continue to work together to ensure prosperity for our countries.
In order to coordinate the infrastructure development plans, while improving the use of existing systems, Mexico and the United States have agreed to harmonize our planning systems and to better communicate between border-control agencies at ports of entry. Both governments are also examining modeling techniques and procedures to ensure that our border infrastructure is able to meet the demands placed on it by border communities and commerce.
The Border Partnership also calls upon Mexico and the United States to examine trans-border infrastructure and communication and transportation networks and their associated vulnerabilities in order to identify critical trans-border infrastructure protection deficiencies, and to take measures to remedy them. To seek to accomplish this, we have formed a bilateral steering committee and developed an infrastructure protection framework. We have also established sector-focused working groups in the areas of energy, telecommunications, transportation, dams, public health, and agriculture. These groups are tasked with identifying critical infrastructures with trans-border implications; developing protection priorities; and taking compatible steps to eliminate or mitigate vulnerabilities each country has in its own territory.
Secure Flow of People
Since signing the Border Partnership, Mexico and the United States have made significant progress in strengthening border security measures in both our countries. Through cooperative efforts and based on sound risk management principles, we are working to ensure safe, orderly and secure travel for legitimate border crossers. These bilateral actions will be further enhanced by the recent merging of the U.S. agencies responsible for the border into the new Department of Homeland Security, the formation of which provides the Mexican government with one point of contact for border security matters.
To encourage and promote low-risk travel, both pedestrian and vehicular, through congested ports of entry, the United States plans to expand, by using state-of-the-art technology, the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI). In conjunction with this expansion, the United States extended in February the enrollment period from one year to two years. The United States also plans to reduce the waiting period for issuance of the SENTRI card to 2 months or less by June. Further, plans are underway to establish the first dedicated pedestrian lane at the San Ysidro port of entry.
The United States and Mexico plan to accelerate their border safety collaboration to safeguard migrants by placing additional personnel and life-saving equipment along the border, placing special attention to the "high-risk" Arizona - Sonora corridor. Training of immigration officials and law enforcement authorities from both countries in life-saving techniques is underway. Equipment and additional resources necessary to support these efforts are in place as both governments focus together on protecting lives and preventing deaths. The authorities of both countries plan to continue to work jointly to arrest and prosecute smugglers who place migrants at risk.
Secure Flow of Goods
Based on a longstanding relationship of cooperation and mutual assistance, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the General Customs Administration of Mexico (GCAM) have begun the implementation of those action items designed to guarantee the secure and efficient flow of trade between our nations.
For purposes of developing and implementing initiatives identified in the U.S./Mexico Border Partnership Plan, CBP and GCAM have created three special working groups: the Border Working Group, the Enforcement Working Group, and the Technology & Customs Procedures Working Group. These groups have been meeting quarterly and are in constant communication. A Coordinating Committee leads and monitors all activities.
These groups have been working on a broad range of initiatives, namely:
(1) harmonizing and extending the hours of service, in coordination with our trade communities, at the ports of entry located at our common border;
(2) working to implement the Advanced Passenger Information System in Mexico that will collect and share data pertaining to air passengers arriving into and departing from Mexico and the United States;
(3) deploying gamma ray machines at our railroad crossings;
(4) expanding programs and partnerships with the private sector, such as the Business Anti-Smuggling Coalition (BASC), the Customs - Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and Mexico's Compliant Importer/Exporter Program (110 of the 300 largest traders, that account for 66 percent of our bilateral trade, have already been certified by this program);
(5) exchanging core data on every transaction occurring through our common border in an electronic environment;
(6) testing and implementing cutting edge technology such as electronic seals;
(7) conducting joint investigations concerning fraudulent trade, which have led to significant seizures of illegally transshipped or undervalued goods;
(8) developing systems to monitor in-transit shipments through our territories; and,
(9) seizing illegal cash transported by air passengers.
CBP and GCAM are also currently working to develop hi-tech dedicated lanes, which will be made available only to those large companies willing to go the extra mile in securing their shipments. These dedicated lanes will expedite and facilitate the border crossing process, thus reducing the cost of doing business. We intend to open the first dedicated lane in El Paso/Juárez during 2003. The project will be evaluated to insure that it is both secure and efficient. Once we reach an acceptable level of confidence, we plan to replicate dedicated lanes throughout the U.S. - Mexico border.
Our two governments are committed to building an efficient border that simultaneously facilitates legitimate travel, goods, and services on which our economies depend while assuring the security of our two nations. Both sides recognize that many challenges lie ahead. Nonetheless, we are confident that the Border Partnership accord is the vehicle to attain the spirit of cooperation of our two presidents. We will continue our joint work to increase security, minimize delays at ports of entry and build a border that keeps pace with our growing partnership.