BROWNSVILLE, RGV – Border elected officials in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico have written to members of Congress to ask that they oppose President Trump’s “reckless policies” regarding the southwest border and Mexico.
The letter describes Mexico as a neighbor and trading partner. It denounces plans to build a border wall and the suggestion that tariffs be imposed on Mexican imports as a means to pay for the wall.
The letter also says that retreating from the North American Free Trade Agreement without engaging in good-faith negotiations with Mexico “would cripple trade and cause recessions in Border communities and elsewhere.” It cites an editorial by the Wall Street Journal that said, “It took the United States nearly a decade to recover from the economic wreckage of the last recession. A wealth-destroying trade war with one of America’s closest partners would threaten that long-sought recovery.”
The letter originated in El Paso and has signatures from El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar, El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser, and six state lawmakers from that city. El Paso-based Borderplex Alliance has signed the letter, as have two chambers of Commerce in El Paso.
The elected officials in the Rio Grande Valley that have signed the letter are Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia, Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez, Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia, and Rio Grande City Mayor Joel Villarreal.
Here are the officials that signed the letter:
Hon. Veronica Escobar – County Judge, El Paso, Texas
Hon. Oscar Leeser – Mayor, El Paso, Texas
Hon. Jose Rodriguez – Texas State Senator, District 29
Hon. Joe C. Pickett – Texas State Representative, District 79
Hon. Joe Moody – Texas State Representative, District 78
Hon. Mary Gonzalez – Texas State Representative, District 75
Hon. Cesar Blanco – Texas State Representative, District 76
Hon. Lina Ortega – Texas State Representative, District 77
Hon. Ramon Garcia – County Judge, Hidalgo County, Texas
Hon. Efrain Valdez – County Judge, Val Verde County, Texas
Hon. Sharon Bronson – Chair, Board of Supervisors, Pima County, Arizona
Hon. Ann English – Chair, Board of Supervisors, Cochise County, Arizona
Hon. David R. Saucedo – County Judge, Maverick County, Texas
Hon. Maya Sanchez – Mayor, City of San Elizario, Texas
Hon. Manuel Leos, Sr. – Mayor, Village of Vinton, Texas
Hon. Javier Perea – Mayor, City of Sunland Park, New Mexico
Hon. Martin Lerma – Mayor, Town of Anthony, Texas
Hon. Ken Miyagishima – Mayor, City of Las Cruces, New Mexico
Hon. Ramsey English Cantu – Mayor, Eagle Pass, Texas
Hon. Joel Villarreal – Mayor, Rio Grande City, Texas
Hon. Jonathan Rothschild – Mayor, Tucson, Arizona
Hon. Richard H. Garcia – Mayor, City of Edinburg, Texas
Hon. Antonio “Tony” Martinez – Mayor, Brownsville, Texas
Hon. Arthur Clark Smith – Mayor, City of Lordsburg, New Mexico
Hon. John F. Doyle – Mayor, City of Nogales, Arizona
Hon. Benny L. Jasso – Mayor, City of Deming, New Mexico
Richard Dayoub – President/CEO, Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce
Jon Barela – CEO, Borderplex Alliance, El Paso, Texas
Cindy Ramos Davidson – Chief Operating Officer – El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Here is the letter:
Dear Honorable Members of the House of Representatives and Senate:
We write to you as members of the vibrant U.S. Mexico Border community. We are asking you to stand with us to oppose President Trump’s reckless policies regarding our U.S. Border and Mexico, our neighbor and trading partner.
The President’s recent executive actions and rhetoric threaten not only lasting damage to our country’s relationship with Mexico but severe economic consequences to Border communities and the United States as a whole. Specifically, we note the following. The proposed Border wall is a colossally expensive and ineffective deterrent to undocumented immigration and, given that such immigration has been at historic lows, an unnecessary one at that. It will also divert resources away from more productive pursuits, such as improving and modernizing infrastructure at ports of entry, which are the lifeline of cross border trade. In short, the wall, which will be paid for by the American taxpayer no matter what funding scheme is ultimately employed, will create the illusion of security while providing no economic benefit.
Retreating from NAFTA without engaging in good-faith negotiations with Mexico would cripple trade and cause recessions in Border communities and elsewhere. As the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board recently observed, “It took the United States nearly a decade to recover from the economic wreckage of the last recession. A wealth-destroying trade war with one of America’s closest partners would threaten that long-sought recovery.”
In the face of recent threats to impose huge tariffs on Mexican imports, Mexican officials are already discussing the possibility of abandoning NAFTA. Furthermore, Mexico will no doubt immediately respond to a “border tax” with tariffs of its own or begin buying elsewhere. This will severely impact the American economy.
As an example, the Wall Street Journal has observed that U.S. “sales of food and farm products to Mexico totaled a record $19.5 billion in fiscal year 2014,” representing 13% of all U.S. agricultural exports. Anti-Mexico rhetoric has already had a chilling effect on the peso. A declining peso directly affects Border economies, which are closely intertwined with their Mexican sister cities and the Mexican economy as a whole, and it also will severely dampen U.S. exports to Mexico, the second-largest destination for U.S.-made products.
In addition, a declining peso threatens to destabilize Mexico and halt its progress toward establishing a mature economy. Selective changes to America’s immigration laws or immigration policy will not address the fundamental flaws in our country’s immigration system or make us safer. And, to the extent such changes include a policy of arresting non-criminal immigrants or those with minor criminal records, this will result in significantly increased expenditures on detention, the removal of productive workers from the U.S. economy, and placing the immigrants’ family members at risk.
We encourage you to visit the Border communities that will be impacted by President Trump’s tactics. We would welcome the opportunity for you to learn first-hand about our already safe and secure communities as well as the economic importance of the U.S. Mexico border. We have much to lose as a nation with the approach that the President is taking and we urge you to stand up for our communities and economy in the face of this divisive and dangerous antagonism toward the Border and Mexico.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this story shows border fencing in El Paso, Texas.