SANTA TERESA, New Mexico (Border Report) — Increasing vehicle lanes and staffing at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry are among the priorities cited by the incoming director of the New Mexico Border Authority.
“We need to be able to move a higher volume of traffic through Santa Teresa” through expanded commercial and passenger vehicle capacity, said Marco Grajeda, who was appointed on Friday to lead the state agency charged with developing trade and commercial opportunities focused on New Mexico’s ports of entry, which include Santa Teresa and Columbus.
According to the Santa Teresa-based Border Industrial Association, commercial traffic increased from 60,000 trucks in 2009 to nearly 120,000 in 2017.
Jerry Pacheco, president and CEO of the Border Industrial Association, said he welcomes Grajeda’s appointment and hopes to see an expansion of the port of entry’s capacity, if not immediately due to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) staffing issues, certainly in the mid-term. “We are very happy about his appointment. Marco knows the area and the issues very well. He’s not going to have to come in and learn the ropes; he already knows what’s going on,” Pacheco said. “We support adding more staff and more resources at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry.”
Pacheco said such an expansion — more commercial and passenger vehicle lanes — would require federal government investment, including the hiring of between 20 and 30 additional CBP officers.
“We hope in the mid-term there’s going to be enough agents recruited and trained to staff Santa Teresa to process commercial and other traffic. Commercial traffic is just growing and growing in Santa Teresa, so that’s an important consideration — to work with the federal government to get those additional resources to meet our growing needs,” he said.
Grajeda, who takes over on Aug. 26, also wants to boost collaboration between southern New Mexico, El Paso and Juarez, as well as expand border trade opportunities in Luna and Hidalgo counties, both in Southern New Mexico.
“We really want to focus on global trade and develop an ecosystem of businesses along the border that will create jobs and opportunity for New Mexicans,” said Alicia J. Keyes, New Mexico’s Secretary of Economic Development, who announced Grajeda’s appointment.
The Border Authority is a state agency that facilitates new infrastructure, trade, job opportunities and training to facilitate development and productivity on the U.S. side of the Mexico-New Mexico border.
Grajeda, a native of Juarez and a graduate of New Mexico State University, previously worked as a field representative for U.S. Sen. Tom Udall in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He worked on projects to procure funding for a replacement port of entry in Columbus, New Mexico, and to extend the hours of operation at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry.