Sunland Park makes new space for border crossing to Mexico

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SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico (Border Report) – Even before the city was founded in 1983, the residents of this community in southern New Mexico campaigned for a border crossing to Mexico.

With a young, growing population of 17,978 bordering both El Paso, Texas and Mexican manufacturing giant Juarez, and with Interstate 10 just a short drive away, city guides are once again advocating a port of entry.

The $ 80 million project is currently under review by various agencies, and presidential approval requests have been filed in Washington, DC and Mexico City, said Javier Perea, Mayor of Sunland Park.

“Right now we’re going back and forth with the various agencies that are reviewing these studies, and we’re also working on the Mexican side,” said Perea. “We are planning a trip to Mexico City to see if the project can be transferred to the federal register. Diplomatic notes have been exchanged and I hope that this year we will have a resolve on this particular project. “

The State Department told Border Report that it received the petition from Sunland Park and sent it to the White House for review.

The planned border crossing at Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. (Courtesy Sunland Park City)

The feasibility study for the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro port of entry predicts daily traffic flows of 1,500 cars and 205 pedestrians until 2022. That would increase to 2,300 vehicles and 575 pedestrians by 2040 Park Drive and consist of a bridge over the border wall and nearby BNSF railroad tracks.

The border crossing would cover 94.1 to 119.1 hectares, of which inspection facilities and administrators would occupy 73 to 97.5 hectares.

The border wall at Sunland Park in the general area where the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro proposed a border crossing would be built. (Photo of the border report)

Proponents say the crossing would reduce congestion on El Paso’s international bridges – the Paso del Norte, the Bridge of the Americas and the Ysleta-Zaragoza ports of entry – and create a new trade corridor with northwest Juarez.

Sunland Park Mayor Javier Perea (Photo by Julian Resendiz)

“It’s not just about Sunland Park. The aim is to supplement the system of (international) bridges in the El Paso region. […] The more time we spend waiting in line to get to either Mexico or the United States, the greater the negative economic impact on our communities, ”Perea said.

He was referring to waiting more than two hours before the pandemic, El Pasoans returning from visiting family, tourists visiting Juarez and Mexican residents coming to El Paso to shop to cross the border .

But this logic has hit a wall before. Similar projects failed in the 2000s and early 2010s due to a lack of government support, competing interests in nearby Santa Teresa, and political scandals in Sunland Park.

The Santa Teresa Port of Entry has continued to grow despite the COVID-19 pandemic and is slated to be rebuilt to accommodate the passage of giant wind blades that will be manufactured in Juarez and sent to wind farms in the Midwest. The renovation was made possible by the federal donation program.

Efforts are also being made behind the scenes to fund a study for a full port expansion.

“For us, any investment at the border will fuel economic development,” said Marco Grajeda, executive director of the New Mexico Border Authority. “For me, the focus is on expanding and modernizing the Santa Teresa Port of Entry. […] Senator (Martin) Heinrich tries to include the funding in the infrastructure package discussed in Washington. We hope to receive this investment in the design or even construction of the (extended Santa Teresa) port. ”

In this photo from January 5, 2016, rotor blades for wind turbines stand in a field in the booming city of Santa Teresa in New Mexico on the US-Mexico border. The nonprofit group that runs Santa Teresa is working to transform the area from a place where people work to a place where they could live. Officials are drafting plans to build a hillside plaza surrounded by Mediterranean-style homes and international restaurants. (AP Photo / Russell Contreras)

Heinrich, D-New Mexico, passed a law in 2020 to re-approve the donation program, which enables the renovation in Santa Teresa. In April, he met with port officials to discuss how expanding opening hours and physical infrastructure could create more trading opportunities for the state.

“I was proud to work with business and community leaders to build public-private partnerships and raise millions of dollars in federal funds to facilitate legal international trade at New Mexico ports of entry,” Heinrich told Border Report. “I continue to focus on building on our recent successes, such as those at the Santa Teresa port of entry, and ensuring that New Mexico’s border companies and communities have the resources they need to thrive.”

Sunland Park’s Perea said there was no competing interest between the existing Santa Teresa port and the proposed Camino Real de Tierra Adentro border crossing. However, project documents also show an option for commercial bridge lanes.

“When the original ideas for these ports were submitted, the idea was that Santa Teresa should be a commercial port and Sunland Park should be a non-commercial port. Hopefully we can make that happen in the next few years, ”said Perea. “It is doable and worth moving forward.”


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