WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is recommending that the federal government spend more than $300 million to expand two major ports of entry at the California border with Mexico in an effort to ease traffic and enhance trade and security.
The proposals are part of a $3.9 trillion budget proposal the White House released Tuesday.
Obama’s plan would provide $216.8 million for the San Ysidro crossing and $98.1 million for Calexico.
San Ysidro is the busiest border crossing in the Western Hemisphere, with more than 50,000 vehicles and 25,000 pedestrians entering the United States there each day. An ongoing expansion is adding dozens of new inspection booths and more pedestrian processing facilities.
The money for Calexico would allow for construction to begin on an expansion there. Democratic lawmakers from Southern California wrote Obama in February asking him to include funding for the project in his budget. They said the existing facilities were too small to deal with the 16,000 vehicles and 20,000 pedestrians who enter the U.S. through the port, and that expansion would encourage economic growth and create jobs.
Obama also called for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to build a new mental health clinic in Long Beach and a new spinal cord injury center in San Diego. Specific price tags were not cited for the projects, but they were noted as part of the major construction projects that the administration would be seeking. Such projects exceed $10 million. Veterans groups and lawmakers have been calling on the VA to beef up its major construction spending.
Some proposals are unlikely to get enacted, but the port of entry expansions and the new veteran facilities have significant congressional support.
Obama’s budget also calls for continuing to dedicate about $37 million to restoring the San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.