U.S. federal DHS official visits Mexicali's CETYS
Alan Bersin, U.S. Department of Homeland Security assistant secretary of international affairs and chief diplomatic officer, discusses issues related to border crossings Friday at CETYS University in Mexicali. (CHELCEY ADAMI PHOTO / June 30, 2012)
The crowd of more than a hundred people included officials from both Mexicali and Calexico such as Mexicali’s mayor, an Imperial County supervisor, CETYS school administration, students and Baja California police officials.
Bersin’s lecture, titled “Lines and Flows: The Beginning and End of Borders,” was based on an article of the same name published by the Brooklyn Journal of International Law.
CETYS President Fernando Leon Garcia welcomed the visit as an opportunity to learn more about DHS.
“This visit promotes broader cross-border understanding and cooperation in general between the U.S. and Mexico, as well as the potential role universities can play,” Leon Garcia said.
During a question and answer session at the end of his lecture, former Baja California Gov. Eugenio Elorduy asked Bersin what has been done to expedite authorization of SENTRI cards.
Bersin replied the government doesn’t have a system in place yet that can handle all the applications being submitted and that a solution for it is being sought.
Imperial County District 1 Supervisor John Renison asked Bersin how he is addressing the holdup on the Calexico Downtown Port of Entry expansion project due to no federal funding at this time.
“We must create conditions for public-private partnerships.” Bersin replied, explaining that the markets on both sides of the border need to assume responsibility in providing adequate infrastructure at ports of entry.
He said with a billion dollars a day in trade and 400,000 people crossing a day along the U.S.-Mexico border, the government is “constantly 6 to 7 billion (dollars) behind” in infrastructure needs.
He also cited that “lack of coordination” between the two countries has been “frustrating” and said a binational committee on infrastructure is working to alleviate those frustrations.
Former Calexico city manager Victor Carrillo was pleased with Bersin’s endorsement of the idea of a public-private partnership.
“Finally somebody gets it. … The fact that he stepped out of the box and said public-private partnerships are the way to go with this project … that’s excellent news,” Carrillo said. “We’ve already planted the seed for that over that last year in Washington with GSA and the appropriators and it’s been gaining traction. … We’ll be pushing to see if this can become a reality within the next 12 to 18 months.”
Bersin was also the keynote speaker of CETYS commencement ceremony Friday evening.
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or firstname.lastname@example.org