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NOGALES, Ariz. (AP) — The Latest on joint U.S.-Mexico border inspections (all times local):
Authorities say that wait times for cargo trucks at an Arizona border crossing have dropped from several hours to 25 minutes thanks to a pilot program that allows Mexican customs officials to inspect shipments alongside U.S. officials in the American side of the border.
U.S. Customs and Border Gil Kerlikowske and his Mexican counterpart, Ricardo Trevino, said Thursday in Nogales, Arizona, that the program is another step in solidifying the trade relationship between the U.S. and Mexico. A similar program in southern California allows U.S. customs agents to inspect outbound cargo trucks in the Mexican side.
Arizona ports of entry facilitated $18.1 billion in imports from Mexico to the United States last year, according a report by the Economic and Business Research Center at the University of Arizona's Eller College of Management.
Federal authorities say a program that allows U.S. and Mexico officers to jointly inspect commercial trucks heading north is helping shorten border crossing wait times in Arizona.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske and his Mexican counterpart, Ricardo Trevino, will tout the program during a news conference in Nogales, Arizona, on Thursday.
The program is also being used in the San Diego area, where U.S. Office of Field Operations officers can work on Mexican soil to jointly inspect northbound trucks.
At Nogales, Mexican officers will help conduct dual inspections on the U.S. side.
Guillermo Valencia, the chairman of The Greater Nogales and Santa Cruz County Port Authority, said his organization lobbied CBP to implement the program in Arizona and that it has already reduced wait times.
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