Proposal aims to increase range Mexicans can travel inside New Mexico
After watching businesses in their neighboring states profit for years, businesspeople and officials along the Mexico-New Mexico border impressed it upon their beltway representatives that they, too, finally wanted to cash in on what has not been coming their way.
Meaning: extend the traveling distance into which Mexican nationals can penetrate New Mexico, so that they can bring their cash to cities like Las Cruces, Lordsburg, and Deming.
In response, Senators Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman have proposed legislation — the Southern New Mexico Economic Development Act — asking for an extension of the 25-mile zone in which Mexican citizens can travel into New Mexico to shop, to conduct business, to visit family and friends to 75 miles.
“This bill means more business for companies in border communities,” said Dan Watson of Udall’s Washington D.C. office. “With more people coming in to shop and do friendly business, the better off they are.”
Currently, holders of the Border Crossing Card (also known as a Laser Card) can only venture 25 miles from the border into New Mexico, Texas and California. New Mexico has fewer towns within that range than California and Texas, which offer shoppers cities such as El Paso and San Diego. In 1999, Arizona extended the card’s range to 75 miles, which granted Mexican nationals access to Tucson. “New Mexico should have the same opportunity as Arizona to benefit from this added commerce,” said Watson.
Momentum for the extension has been gaining. This past September, New Mexico’s legislature passed a resolution asking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to extend the zone.
“This bill extends that line further to boost our border economy in a manner that is consistent with our border security needs,” added Watson.