Progress on the Tornillo Port of Entry remains stagnant across the border.
Despite millions of dollars worth of construction, the town of Guadalupe just across the border has yet to see a single piece of construction equipment.
While the wait may cause frustration, El Paso County Commissioner Vince Perez says now is not the time to panic.
According to Perez, there are frustrations but he still believes all signs point to construction beginning soon.
“The United States is not going to let this project fall by the wayside,” said Perez.
The federal government has pumped more than $90 million into the project, more than double the amount El Paso County has put in. While the project has caused concern on a local level, Perez said in a national view the delay isn’t typical. Perez pointed out that past projects have been delayed on the American side, and that past delays from Mexico were eventually caught up with.
Still, Perez said the process isn’t one that can be controlled by the county. While informal status updates are given via the State Department, talks between countries for international ports of entries are limited to the executive branch.
“The frustration as a local entity is we can not talk directly to Mexico,” said Perez. “That’s been a great frustration. I wish I could pick up the phone and get a status update, we can’t do that.”
Since talks are only allowed through the executive branch, El Paso County is using every means to push for it to become a talking point for President Barack Obama.
In a recent El Paso County Commissioners Court meeting, the commissioners gave directions to their federal lobby team to push for the Tornillo Port of Entry to become a talking point for an upcoming summit between the president and his Mexico counterpart, Enrique Pena Nieto.
Perez said he’s also been in contact with Congressman Pete Gallego, Beto O’Rourke and state legislators to exhaust all lines of communication to push for more discussion.
According to Perez, he’s heard several different start dates for Mexico to begin construction. He’s heard that ground could begin to be moved as soon as June. He’s also heard that construction may begin in the second half of the year. Either way, he remains confident that the work will get done.