AUSTIN, Texas – The Mexican American Legislative Caucus is calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to tell President Trump not to mess with the Texas economy.

MALC, the oldest Hispanic legislative group in the country, believes the Trump administration is jeopardizing the Lone Star State’s business climate by floating the idea of a 20 percent tariff on all products imported from Mexico. The funds raised would pay for a new border wall, according to Trump spokesman Sean Spicer.

State Rep. Rafael Anchía

State Rep. Rafael Anchía, who chairs MALC, called on Abbott to contact Trump when he delivered the State of Latino Texas address at the state Capitol on Monday. On Tuesday, Abbott delivers the State of the State address.

“During his first week on the job, the President has vowed to build a border wall that will be funded by a 20 percent tax on Texas-Mexico trade. The Texas Association of Business has warned that these policies threaten countless jobs in the state of Texas that are directly tied to our bilateral relationship,” Anchía said.

Anchía, a Democrat from Dallas, pointed out that Mexico is Texas’ No. 1 trading partner and that business with its southern neighbor accounts for about 15 percent of the state’s GDP.

“When we threaten the bilateral relationship with policies such as the 20 percent tax on bilateral trade, it is a challenge and a problem for the over three million jobs in Texas that are tied to international trade,” Anchía said.

“We need vocal and muscular leadership here in Texas to tell Washington to not mess with us and to explain to them that our border with Mexico and our relationship with our No. 1 trading partner is an opportunity, not a challenge. We call on the Governor to make that known to Washington.”

Anchía, an attorney, is a considered an expert on trade with Mexico. He chairs the House Committee on International Trade and Intergovernmental Affairs.

“We feel that as the chief executive officer for the state, we rely on him (Abbott) and we need for him to tell Washington how things on the ground here are different than the new president perceives them,” Anchía added.

Reinhold Richard “Reince” Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff at the White House, said over the weekend that the import tariff proposal was just one of a “buffet of ideas” being considered as a means of getting Mexico to pay for a border wall.

State Rep. Poncho Nevárez

Another member of MALC, state Rep. Alfonso “Poncho” Nevárez of Eagle Pass, was also critical of Trump’s 20 percent import tariff idea.

“It is irresponsible to test out policy ideas in the media without first considering the profound impact on American consumers and the economy. Businesses are preparing for the worst – so without even implementing the policy, proposing it has already had a negative impact,” Nevárez said.

Nevárez, who serves as vice-chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee, described the 20 percent tariff proposal as reckless.

“The economic burden would fall especially hard on the constituents and businesses of House District 74 relying heavily on trade from Mexico. Furthermore, the United States cannot impose a Mexican import tariff under NAFTA rules.”

Nevárez represents Texas House District 74, which includes the counties of Brewster, Culberson, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Kinney, Loving, Maverick, Pecos, Presidio, Reeves, Terrell, and Val Verde.

View from Tamaulipas

Francisco Galván, director of trade for Tamaulipas Gov. Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca, said he does not believe the U.S. will impose a 20 percent tariff on Mexican imports.

“If we are going to start a war over the tariffs that are charged on products brought across the border, it will have a very great impact on both economies. I don’t think it is convenient for either side of the border or the two states of Texas and Tamaulipas to create a war over trade or taxes,” Galván said.

Francisco Galván

“The economies are going to be affected; inflation is going to go up, unemployment is going to hit so GDP is going to be affected. So, I hope the advisors to President Trump make him come to his senses and realize that free trade is good for both countries.”

Galván gave his views in an exclusive interview with the Rio Grande Guardian while attending an economic forecast luncheon hosted by UT-Rio Grande Valley’s Center for Border Economic Studies. Gov. Cabeza de Vaca was keynote speaker at the luncheon.

Asked if other countries around the world would come to Mexico’s aid, should the U.S. impose a 20 percent tariff on Mexican imports, Galván said: “Definitely. It is happening already. We have a lot of countries that are supporting Mexico in this supposed war that the American government is trying to create.”

In any case, Galván said, Mexico is not the United States’ real enemy on trade.

“If you want to see a real enemy on the trade against the United States, it is not Mexico. We have $60 billion, China has $360 billion. I do not know what the issue is for President Trump in getting Mexico to look like his enemy.”

Galván pointed out that Mexico has free trade agreements with 41 countries. However, he said, 85 percent of the nation’s trade is done with the United States. “If the United States decides to abandon free trade, it will take time for us to be shopping around but the potential is enormous for Mexico. Mexico is going to be alright, one way or another.”

Asked who would suffer if a 20 percent tariff on Mexican goods was imposed, Galván said: “Guess what, the consumers in the United States are going to pay for that. Everything will impact the consumers, the middle class. It will create inflation, everything is going to be more expensive, ACs, TVs, cars, produce, everything.”

Asked if Mexico could retaliate, Galván said: “We are not in the position to make any war of any kind with the United States. We are still leaving the table open to negotiations and we are going to push it to the end. The good news is we are more united than ever and that is going to make us stronger. We have to work out something that is good for both countries.”

Galván added: “I respect President Trump, I know he is a smart man. I hope he comes to his senses on the reality of the economic impact that is going be occur when he forces all those corporations and companies to move back to the United States.”

Editor’s Note: Reporter Stephanie Jara contributed to this story from McAllen, Texas.


  1. You are forgetting that Mexico is more dependent on Texas than we are dependent on Mexico. As the Peso continues to drop below a US nickel they will have to come to the table to negotiate.

    Mexico should be a 1st World Nation. It has vast reserves of oil, natural gas, gold, silver and copper plus the ability to grow everything from wheat to bananas, coastlines and ports to serve both East and West, fishieries plus antiquities and beaches that draw millions of tourists YET it pales in power and wealth compared to the USA. This is because Mexico’s Wealth is controlled by a very small group of Elites and they are controlled by the cartels. These Elites don’t give a rat’s ass about the People. In fact, they are happy to see the people go north and send back money. This accomplishes two things; it preserves the Elite’s Power & Wealth (they rid themselves of peoples who might start thinking they should share said power and wealth ) plus the money they send back helps keep the corrupt economy going. Trump if successful, will change all that. The people, unable to flee north might start thinking “why are we so poor when Mexico is so rich?” And that, quite frankly, scares the shit out of the Elite. Stop the pressure escape valve that is illegal immigration and Mexico could have an internal revolution in ten years. It’s been a century since the last and they are over-due.