Border Crossing Waits Are Costing Us Money

How long border crossing times can stack up to big losses for the economy.

By Alain StephensMarch 3, 2015 9:30 am

Most government officials are quick to highlight the woes of illegal border crossings, but you don’t hear much concerning the conversation of the millions of legal crossings that occur every year. These crossing occur at designated border checkpoints where wait times can last over an hour.

Any economist will tell you that time is money – so it’s not far fetched to find that these slow times have stacked up to some big losses for the economy.

Texas Representative Rafael Anchia sits is chair of the International Trade and Intergovermental Affairs Committee, where he’s found how sluggish crossing times have impacted our economy.

“We are trying to work on the tension between border security and border efficiency we really do need a flexible border because the average economic output that is lost in the U.S. economy per minute of delay at the border is $116 million. People don’t appreciate that and you said earlier time is money. But in addition to the economic output in 2017 we’re projecting that we’re gonna have forgone 54,000 jobs, $6 billion in lost economic output, $3 billion in lost wages, and $1.2 billion of lost tax revenue,” Anchia says.

Anchia says the border times are so long because of the access coming in and out of our border checkpoints need to be more efficient.

“We’ve been in a rules based trading regime with Mexico for 20 years now under NAFTA and with a tear of schedules being eliminated and harmonization of standards. We’re moving a lot more goods and services across the border with our number one trading partner. Our infrastructure on the other hand is still essentially a 60’s and 70’s vintage transportation infrastructure and some of our older bridges which go through densely populated urban areas in El Paso, Laredo, and Mcallen need to be reconfigured and the footprint needs to become more efficient,” Anchia says.

Anchia says to change things at the border there needs to be a multi jurisdiction approach.

“Cities own some bridges but the right away running up to the cities often state. The feds own some bridges and you need federal presidential permits for that but the run up to the bridge are often state highways. We play a role in properly funding the run ups of these checkpoints and investing appropriately. We also have a responsibility to make sure our inspections from DPS of Northbound trucks are done efficiently. Right now we have a Texas two step with the feds doing one inspection and the state doing another one and were talking about consolidating the two inspections and co locating DPS with the feds so they can do the inspection once and let the cargo move on,” Anchia says.