Fronteras Desk

Members of the U.S. Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere met with experts Monday to look at how the United States can improve trade with Mexico. They also heard from American businesses on the border who say long waits are slowing economic growth.

Companies in cities like Nogales told the committee that staffing at the ports of entry is still inadequate.

U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, whose Congressional district covers areas of Southern Arizona with great proximity to the border, said one solution would require Homeland Security to consider these businesses when drawing up plans for future border security. It’s part of a bill the House is considering called the Border Security Results Act.

"It says before (the Department of Homeland Security) can deploy its resources, before it can develop a strategic plan, it’s gotta listen to the people who live on the border, who work on the border, who have businesses on the border. It’s kind of a no-brainer right?" the Arizona Democrat said.

Another concern for the committee is PEMEX, Mexico’s oil giant. On Monday, Mexican lawmakers moved forward on an energy bill that would allow foreign companies to partner with PEMEX.

U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., chairman of the subcommittee, helped press for a hydrocarbon agreement between the U.S. and Mexico last year. Now, Salmon says U.S. companies need to be ready to move in.

"PEMEX, the Mexican oil company, does not have the ability on its own to be able to do deepwater drilling," Salmon said. "They’re going to need expertise from companies like ours."

If approved, the PEMEX deal would be the biggest reform to Mexico’s energy sector in nearly a century.