AUSTIN, Texas – The chairman of the Texas House Committee on International Trade and Intergovernmental Affairs has urged President-elect Donald Trump not to mess with Texas when it comes to bilateral trade with Mexico.
Speaking at the start of the 85th legislative session in Austin, said state Rep. Rafael Anchía, D-Dallas, said: “I would say to President-elect Trump, don’t mess with Texas. We don’t need the border wall. Let the market operate as it has been operating for centuries and make sure we make bilateral trade easier not harder.”
Anchía has brought his committee to the border region for interim hearings, so House members from other parts of Texas learn more about the importance of Texas-Mexico trade.
“What I try to do from my perch as chairman of the international trade committee is raise consciousness in the body that Mexico is our partner and that Mexico is not a challenge it is an opportunity. That we need to have a bilateral structure to work through the challenges that we have together. But, in the end, the opportunity is immense. And, we really need each other as a state and a country.”
Anchía made his comments in an in-depth interview with veteran South Texas news anchor Ron Whitlock.
In the interview, Anchía focused on energy, immigration and the border wall. He pointed out that the North American Free Trade Agreement allowed Mexico to trade on equal footing with Canada, vis-à-vis the United States.
“For Texas, we stand at the geographic crossroads of North America. We are net winners and not in a small way, in a big way, from our trade with Mexico. In fact, for Texas, our Comptroller just reported has 1.6 million jobs that are directly related to exports to Mexico. That is a lot of jobs,” Anchía said.
“So, what we want President-elect Trump to understand is how critical the bilateral relationship with Mexico is, how intertwined our economies are. He has spent a lot of time focusing on illegal immigration. We need for him to understand that while maybe 250,000 people cross on an unauthorized basis every year, 80,450,000 cross on an authorized basis every year. These are people who live and work in the other country. These are executives who are in the maquiladora program that provides components to a lot of our finished products. These are people who walk across the border on a daily basis to work legally, either in the U.S. or Mexico. It stimulates the border economy on both sides.”
Rep. Anchía said President-elect Trump should also be aware that Texas and Mexico have great opportunities when it comes to energy production. He said he is confident Trump’s pick for energy secretary, former Texas governor Rick Perry, will help in this regard.
“We are at the cusp of an energy revolution. Mexico has what is called the Burgos Basin. It is an extension of the Eagle Ford. The geological formations do not stop at the border and Texas has the highest and best technology to exploit the oil and gas basins in Mexico. They are going to need Texas products, they are going to need Texas technology, they are going to need Texas workers to go down into Mexico to do some of this work. There is this great opportunity, once oil and gas prices come up for us to be even more closely intertwined between both countries. I think it is positive Rick Perry, our former governor, understands the symbiosis that we have with Mexico and the energy potential on both sides of the border. So, when we are thinking about North America, there really is an opportunity for a North American energy independence if we do this correctly.”
Anchía said Trump would do well to forget about building more border walls and focus instead on building international bridges.
“When you think about Texas and Mexico it is less about two countries and more about one region. This region has had people moving across, trading, living on both sides of the border for hundreds of years,” Anchía said.
“If he (Trump) took time to understand, the region between San Antonio and Monterrey is really a seamless region and has been for centuries, whether you are talking about the Camino Real coming up from (New) Spain, or you are talking about the bilateral trade that is happening today, there should be a greater emphasis on infrastructure, but not in the form of a wall, but in the form of bridges and roadways and pipelines and AC/DC connectivity lines for the transmission of energy. Those are the opportunities.”
In his interview with Whitlock, Anchía pointed out that the U.S. is now at net zero for migration from Mexico and that in terms of undocumented border crossers, Other Than Mexicans, outnumber Mexicans.
“You see wealth being created in Mexico. You see additional industry being created in Mexico. That helps us. In fact, our immigration policy operates in a perverse way in that it almost traps them into the United States, rather than allow them to come back and forth and work freely. If we had a safe and legal system to allow people to come back and forth freely, I think you would see a lot more free movement of workers; to match willing workers with willing employers in a system to where, when the economy is white hot and we need workers, the program opens up and when we are in a bear economy and we don’t need workers, the program contracts,” Anchía said.
“What we see today with unauthorized immigration is the market working. The signal we send people is, if you can survive a river crossing or a border crossing, there are plentiful jobs waiting for you here. What we should be doing, instead of building a wall is coming up with a rational system that allows willing workers and willing employers to meet, because that is what the market demands.”
Anchía finished the interview by praising U.S. Senator John Cornyn, Texas’ senior senator.
“I think Senator Cornyn understands the border perfectly. I was very pleased to see him team up with Congressman (Henry) Cuellar on an appropriations rider that created a system to build out border infrastructure. I think that Democrats and Republicans, together, from Texas, understand the importance of the border to our shared destinies in both Mexico and Texas.”
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this story shows state Rep. Rafael Anchía of Dallas and Ron Whitlock of Ron Whitlock Reports at the state Capitol in Austin on the first day of the 85th Legislative Session.