Presidio resident Brad Newton, who is the executive director of the Presidio Municipal Development District, attended the U.S.-Mexico Summit in El Paso and Juárez with his friend and colleague, Presidio mayor, John Ferguson, and was excited by what he heard and saw, particularly as it related to the development of Presidio as a port of entry from Mexico.
He was especially interested in learning about New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez’s initiatives. “The state of New Mexico is doing things to welcome Mexican business. Texas is throwing rocks. What we saw at that conference was a changing attitude.”
Martinez described her work to make the port of entry at Santa Teresa, near El Paso, more conducive to trade, and Newton understood them to be ideas worth imitating. “They put $800 million into infrastructure rather than putting that same money in more borderland security, and the money is better spent.”
Newton says the difficulty of crossing the border has hurt Presidio economically. “Presidio used to grow cantaloupes and onions. Pre-9/11, people used to work and go home (to Mexico). They said they were protecting jobs, but Americans didn’t want the jobs. Now we grow hay, and the melons are grown in Mexico.”
He’d like also like to see the kind of support and expertise that other ports have. “We just want to get on a level playing field with the other ports around El Paso. They’re getting backed up with cattle in El Paso, as many as 3,000 a day, and we could work with them so if they got too full, the could come to Presidio.” But first, he says, Presidio would have to build cattle pens right at the border so the cattle could get off the trucks in Mexico, walk across to the pens. “As it is, they get stressed coming out of trucks, getting inspected, getting back on the trucks and taken to pens that are not right there, and they lose weight from the stress. It would be good if we could water them and feed them before putting them on trucks to go out, and if the USDA came back. We have an 80-year history of cattle trade. We don’t want to lose that,” Newton said.