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USC Researchers Calculate Value Of Faster Border Crossing

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Aired 4/9/13

Researchers at the University of Southern California have developed a model to predict how adding customs and border agents at U.S. Ports of Entry would affect the economy.

— If U.S. Customs and Border Protection added just one extra agent to check semi-trucks at the Otay Mesa commercial border crossing, each truck might wait a minute or two less than it does now to get its goods into the U.S.

That might not sound like much, but cumulatively, it could translate into $2 million per year per agent added to our gross domestic product. That’s one of the conclusions reached by researchers from the University of Southern California in a recent study.

The study was conducted by USC's National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), which is funded by the Department of Homeland Security.

In total, adding 33 new CBP agents — one at each of the nation's busiest borders and international airports — would translate into a total of $66 million in extra GDP.

In terms of people crossing the border to shop and work, the researchers found that one additional border agent on the job would translate into 33 new jobs in the U.S. and more than half a million dollars worth of time saved for border crossers.

To make their calculations, the USC team looked at things like the value of a border crosser’s time, and how delays affect transportation costs.

“It’s only in the millions of dollars instead of the billions, but you know, they are pretty significant and shows that this is a winning proposition,” said Adam Rose, one of the study’s authors.

Still, considering federal budget woes, CBP could be more likely to cut staff in the near future than add it.

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