Mayor, McAllen sign off on new bridge deal with feds

by Office of Communications and Media Relations | Dec 23, 2013

Mayor part of historic ceremony DC

Darling at signing of CBP public-private partnership agreement


McALLEN – Mayor Jim Darling attended the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s official signing ceremony in Washington finalizing the agreements for five public-private partnerships that will lead to expedited traffic and trade at ports of entry and includes the City of McAllen and the South Texas Assets Consortium (STAC).

Darling was one of just two Texas mayors to attend the exclusive event at CBP Headquarters at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington. Acting CBP Commissioner Thomas S. Winkowski hosted Mayor Darling and the small group on Thursday Dec. 19.

A local ceremony to finalize the STAC accord took place Monday (Dec. 23) at 3 p.m. at the Texas Produce Association offices in Mission.

“It’s important to the city’s success that McAllen participate in this innovative strategy to improve commerce with our neighbors to the south and create an advantage for moving commerce by the maquila industries,” said Mayor Darling. “I want to thank Commissioner Winkowski for inviting McAllen.”

Darling also said he appreciated all the Congressional leadership and hard work that made the public-private partnership agreements possible including Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and Congressmen Hinojosa, Cuellar and Vela.  Darling acknowledged the leadership of South Texas Assets Consortium president, Sam Vale.

The PPP, under authority from the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013, CBP has created a reimbursable fee agreement program to increase CBP’s ability to provide new or enhanced services on a reimbursable basis to support growth in cross-border trade and travel. This means local governments can pay (reimburse) CBP for additional staff and other extra services that could expedite traffic and inspections at clogged ports of entry. Previously, CBP was barred from accepting local aid.

“The utilization of public-private partnerships is an important component of CBP’s strategy to optimize resources,” said Commissioner Winkowski. “Together with our private sector partners, we can better facilitate trade and travel to continue to grow our local and national economies.”

The entities selected for these partnerships are Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport; The City of El Paso; South Texas Assets Consortium (of which McAllen is one of five participants); The City of Houston Airport System; and Miami-Dade County.  These locations will cover the entirety of CBP air, land and sea operations, according to CBP.

The reimbursable services proposals were reviewed and ranked based on criteria including: impact on current CBP operations, health and safety issues, community and economic benefits, and the feasibility of instituting the agreements in a timely manner. The deadline to complete the negotiations with the five applicants is December 31, 2013. These agreements will not replace existing services, and new services can include all customs and immigration inspection-related matters.