State Senator Ben Hueso’s (D-San Diego) legislation to create a new California Border Commission received unanimous approval yesterday from the Senate Committee on Governmental Organization. SB 684 requires a restructuring of California-Mexico border affairs under one public stakeholder commission to improve efficiency, maximize resources, and increase community input.
“California’s close proximity and shared values with Mexico have resulted in a high degree of economic, social, and cultural interdependence,” said Sen. Hueso. “Our shared border poses a unique set of challenges and opportunities that affect one of the most economically successful regions in the world. The border region was particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impacts were exacerbated by long-standing inequities and underinvestment in the region. Building a 21st-century border economy will be key to California’s economic recovery.”
Although three state entities currently exist that are charged with California-Mexico border affairs, there continues to be underinvestment in the region, a lack of adequate coordination with local stakeholders, and limited strategic planning. Given the importance of the border region, the distinct nature of the challenges and opportunities faced, and limited state resources, it is appropriate for the state to have a singular public stakeholder commission capable of developing policy proposals and recommendations to address the challenges and seize the opportunities that come with bordering a foreign country.
To accomplish this, the new California Border Commission would be composed of 11 members: nine voting members and two nonvoting members (a Senator and an Assembly member). The nine voting members will include three representatives from Imperial County, three representatives from San Diego County, and three representatives from the public at large. The commission will be tasked with developing policy proposals and recommendations to improve outcomes in the border region.
“I commend Senator Hueso’s legislative leadership, and together, we remain committed to alleviating the long-standing and severe economic, environmental, and public health disparities that have rendered our border community more susceptible to COVID-19. Amid these unprecedented circumstances, SB 684 is needed more than ever. Through enhanced stakeholder coordination and community engagement, the California Border Commission would allow us to maximize our resources and strategize to improve living conditions for residents and rebound our shared border economy,” said Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), who also represents the border region and is a co-author of SB 684.
“I want to commend the senator for being tenacious on this issue,” said coauthor and Senate Minority Leader Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita). “I fully expect it to pass and be on the Governor’s desk and signed.”