AUSTIN, Texas – Another day, another foolishly destructive action by the new administration in Washington, D.C. – that’s the view of the El Paso legislative delegation.
The delegation consists of state Sen. José Rodríguez, state Rep. Joe Pickett, state Rep. Joseph Moody, state Rep. Mary Gonzalez, state Rep. Cesar Blanco, and state Rep. Lina Ortega.
The delegation say that on Wednesday, the Trump administration was targeting immigrants and border communities, through an executive order to jump-start construction of a border wall. In order to pay for that, the legislators say the President is targeting consumers by floating the idea of a 20 percent tax on all Mexican imports. This, the legislators believe, would create a “trade war” with Texas’ biggest trading partner, Mexico. They say Texas will pay the price, and El Paso will be on the front lines.
“Trump’s order to build a border wall reflects a fundamental lack of understanding of the issues facing communities on the Texas-Mexico border and the Texas economy. Now, Trump is even proposing a 20 percent tax on all Mexican imports to raise revenue to pay for his misguided border wall,” the legislative delegation stated.
“Any tax imposed on Mexican imports will ultimately be passed on to the American and Texas consumer.”
The delegation added:
“A 20 percent tax on Mexican imports means a 20% tax on our middle class and working families. This tax proposal will set back trade with our number one trading partner while devastating our State economy and border communities.”
In a news release the delegation stated:
“Make no mistake. We all benefit from trade with Mexico. From vehicles to electronic products to energy to fresh food, Mexico is one of our country’s largest trading partners, and Texas’ largest. This action does not help Americans or Texans, and will both hurt workers while trickling down to consumers. It seems yet another reckless reaction to a perceived personal slight – in this case, the cancellation by Mexico’s president of a meeting – which was the hallmark of his campaign and now of his fledgling administration. A trade war with Mexico will hurt Texas more than most, but it will hurt all Americans. This could be catastrophic.”
The El Paso delegation issued the same message in Spanish:
“Otro día y otra acción absurda y destructiva de parte de la nueva Administración. El Miércoles, su objetivo fue discriminar a los inmigrantes y disminuir a las comunidades fronterizas. Ahora, para poder hacer esto, el Presidente aparentemente propone una guerra económica con México, el socio comercial más grande de nuestro Estado.
“Todos nos beneficiamos del comercio con México. De los productos electrónicos a los productos agrícolas, México es uno de los socios comerciales más grandes de nuestro país. Esta acción no beneficiara a los estadounidenses ni a los residentes de Texas y le hará daño a los trabajadores y a los consumidores. Parece ser otra reacción imprudente a un prejuicio personal- en este caso, la reunión cancelada por el presidente de México – que fue el sello distintivo de su campaña y ahora de su administración. Una guerra comercial con México perjudicará a Texas y a todos los estadounidenses. Esto puede ser catastrófico.”
To back up their claims, the El Paso delegation cited these trade numbers:
· Texas dominates U.S.-Mexico border crossings. In 2013, 3.5 million trucks crossed Texas’ border with Mexico, more than into all other southern border states combined. As of 2013, the state’s largest export market was Mexico, with the $100.9 billion representing 36.1 percent of the state’s $280 billion in merchandise exports [http://www.expressnews.com/business/local/article/Texas-leads-nation-with-record-export-numbers-5804604.php]. Nationally, U.S. goods and services trade with Mexico totaled an estimated $583.6 billion in 2015. [https://ustr.gov/countries-regions/Americas/mexico]
· Trade between the U.S. and Mexico directly supports six million jobs in the U.S. alone. Jobs created as a result of trade with Mexico are widely scattered throughout the U.S., with nearly 700,000 in California, over 450,000 in Texas, more than 200,000 in each of five states – New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Ohio – and another 22 states with more than 100,000 jobs directly supported by trade with Mexico. [https://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/working-together-economic-ties-between-the-united-states-and-mexico ]
· Mexico is the largest trading partner for five states (California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and New Hampshire) and the second largest for 17 more around the country. These span the country from coast to coast and top to bottom, including Arkansas, Iowa, Colorado, Rhode Island, and Michigan, and based around a wide variety of goods such as, chemicals, transportation equipment, plastics and rubbers, foods, paper products, and electronics.
· Tourism: According to the state’s travel office, preliminary estimates show that nearly 8 million travelers from Mexico visited Texas in 2015, generating $4.7 billion in direct spending. Texas welcomed 23 percent of all Mexican air arrivals to the United States, or roughly one out of every four visitors. Travel from Mexico to Texas is projected to increase by 21 percent by 2020.