MISSION, RGV – A new alliance was forged at Anzalduas International Bridge recently when U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and Tamaulipas Gov. Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca learned they had similar views on border security, international trade, and U.S.-Mexico relations.
The two were at the bridge to celebrate a plaque being unveiled in Sen. Cornyn’s honor – with Anzalduas International Bridge board thanking Texas’ senior senator for his national, state and local public service.
“The Senator and the Governor see eye to eye on so many issues important to this region,” Hidalgo Mayor Martin Cepeda told the Rio Grande Guardian. “You name it, border security, international trade, the future of NAFTA, U.S.-Mexico relations, they are forging a new alliance that can only help our region.”
Cabeza de Vaca’s remarks
After local officials such as McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, Mission Mayor Norberto Salinas, McAllen Superintendent of Bridges Rigo Villarreal, and Cepeda praised Cornyn, it was time for the top two dignitaries to give their remarks. Cabeza de Vaca went first.
“Thank you for the invitation to be here in this special day. For decades, Tamaulipas and Texas have shared a border that unites us in many ways: trade and travel between both countries, especially between both border states. Over one billion dollars flow over to Texas and Tamaulipas border daily. Over six million jobs in the United States and millions more in Mexico from trade between both countries,” Cabeza de Vaca said.
The Governor said that since taking office in October 2016, he and his cabinet members have had the opportunity to visit various parts of Texas. He said they have engaged productively with state and federal agencies on issues such as energy, agriculture, infrastructure, education, and border security.
“I’m happy to report that the relationship between Texas and Tamaulipas is stronger than ever. Working together we will achieve great things, because Tamaulipas is open for business,” Cabeza de Vaca said.
Cabeza de Vaca said it takes “top notch” leaders at all levels to achieve results and that “nothing happens on its own.” He said it was an honor to stand alongside a man who exemplifies what it takes to get things done.
“Take it from me, I have made it my mission since I was a federal senator for my home state of Tamaulipas to inform Mexico City of the importance of our shared border and what it means for our region’s economy. The same way that I continue to broach to Mexico City I know senator Cornyn has done the same in Washington, D.C.”
Cabeza de Vaca was fulsome in his praise of Cornyn.
“Senator Cornyn is one of the most proactive senators on border issues in the entire United States of America. As a leader in the United States Senate, he is a determined supporter of NAFTA and certainly US-Mexico trade issues.
“There are a few senators in the United States that have supported more funding for infrastructure projects, the nation’s acceptance programs with the Department of Homeland Security and additional staffing for Customs agents across the border – no one more than senator John Cornyn of Texas.”
Cabeza de Vaca repeated a phrase he often makes, on both sides of the border: “We are not only neighbors, we are partners, we’re allies, we’re friends, and most of all, for the people that live at the border, we have realized that we are family.”
The Governor then drew a roadmap for how prosperity for the U.S. and Mexico can grow. “We believe that working together, we can achieve more, we can achieve greatness. Juntos – together.”
Cabeza de Vaca concluded his remarks by calling Cornyn his amigo.
“That is why I am here today to meet with el amigo, Senator John Cornyn, on this special occasion. An honor bestowed on him by the citizens of this region, and the cities of McAllen, Mission, Hidalgo, for an outstanding job in ensuring the vitality of shared economy and always fighting to do the right thing. Congratulations to our neighbor, el amigo, Senator John Cornyn.”
“Sometimes I’ll say that Mexico and the U.S. are like an old married couple, we gotta get along, they can’t get a divorce but we gotta work through this and we will. But the truth is that we can’t live apart, we benefit from our close relationship, our friendship and our interests silver line in so many different ways,” Cornyn said, in his opening remarks.
“I’m here to say that NAFTA and trade in general is not a dirty word. It’s important. Texas is the No. 1 exporting state in the nation, and our trade with Mexico creates millions of jobs on both sides of the border. So, it’s something worth fighting for. We don’t hear that enough of that in Washington, D.C., where people try to attribute a whole host of ills to trade, when in fact trade solves all problems, creates jobs, creates opportunities and we ought to stand up for and say that.”
Cornyn said he was pleased to that one of the first trips Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made, upon assuming office, was a visit to Mexico City. He said Tillerson was an outstanding candidate for Secretary of State because understands the world and knows about geopolitics.
“I think that (trip) went a long way to sending a positive message to Mexico City that the Trump administration in the United States wants to have a good strong relationship with Mexico and work together and find common cause where we can,” Cornyn said.
On the subject of border security, Cornyn said the U.S. needs to be smart and not waste taxpayer dollars. He said he has been working with colleagues in Congress on a border security plan and has discussed it with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
“Hopefully at some point the Trump administration will embrace this comprehensive approach with border security while recognizing that, while it’s important we improve security, we continue to keep the corridors of commerce open and alive, and benefiting us on both sides of the border,” Cornyn said.
He concluded his remarks by thanking local leaders for the honor they had bestowed on him. However, he said there was still a lot of work to do.
“I’m delighted to be here today with this very nice honor, this very nice plaque. But we’re not here to pop the cork and say, ‘we’re done.’ We’re here to say let’s get started in addressing the challenges that face our two countries.
“I am optimistic that our countries will continue to grow together as friends, economic partners, and as allies who want nothing more than a better way of life for our friends and families on both sides of the border.”
The two dignitaries then took questions from reporters. One question centered on the importance of collaboration. Senator Cornyn answered it first.
“It’s great to see young visionary leaders like the Governor step up and take a responsibility for the challenges faced in Mexico and Tamaulipas in particular. I am glad to see him here because he will be and is my ally as we work together to demonstrate to the rest of the country why our relationship with Mexico is so important and why we need to be concerned about what happens on both sides of the border,” Cornyn said.
In his answer, Gov. Cabeza de Vaca said: “We’re not only willing to work with Senator Cornyn. I am going to do everything that is in my power to let the people in Mexico City, and work with senators and congressman in the United States, to let them know of the importance that goes on here on the border. There are a lot of families and companies that depend on the commerce that we do every day. So, I am going to keep on working to make sure that everybody understands that the trade that we do between each country is for the benefit of the people of both sides of the border.”