McAllen Chamber ‘eager to learn’ where De La Cruz stands on immigration

MCALLEN, Texas – The McAllen Chamber of Commerce wants to hear where Congresswoman Monica De La Cruz stands on immigration.

The Chamber has invited De La Cruz to speak at a legislative luncheon, to be held Thursday, June 29, at the McAllen Performing Arts Center. De La Cruz has accepted the invitation. Individual tickets are $40. Tables are available.

“We look forward to hosting the Congresswoman and hearing what she has to say about our congressional district,” said Gerry Garcia, director of public policy and government affairs for the McAllen Chamber, in a press release promoting the event.

“Our area is going through difficult issues, particularly immigration, and we are eager to learn what the Congresswoman’s plans and goals are for not only the district but for McAllen.” 

The McAllen Chamber made clear its position on immigration and border security in the run-up to McAllen Day at the state Capitol earlier this year.

Chamber’s position

In remarks to the McAllen Economic Development Corporation just prior to McAllen Day, McAllen Chamber Chair Stephan Wingert said the chamber would not be pushing for more border security. Rather, he said, it would be campaigning against the narrative that the border region is a dangerous place to live, work and play.

“I think when I say border security, I’ve got to stop and say that we are only focused on the narrative that is coming to the Valley and so when people talk about border security and they think about making it tougher; the violence is really not a problem down here,” Wingert told the MEDC board.

“We are trying to orchestrate a campaign against that. So, we are going to be talking a lot about that in Austin.”

Position paper

Ahead of McAllen Day at the Capitol, McAllen Chamber Chairman-Elect Jim Darling posted a position paper on immigration and border securing on the Chamber’s website. Darling wrote:

“Many have researched the safety of the U.S. Border Region and research continues to show its safety contrary to the belief about the insecurity of the U.S.-Mexico border and frequent claims for the need to secure the border to prevent the spread of violence into the rest of the country. Rarely are border residents asked how they feel about safety and crime, which could help explain the claims that the border is an insecure war zone posing a threat to the entire country.

“Claims to secure (our) national border is common, and it gives negative perceptions of an unsafe border which is not supported by official crime rates and statistics, Border Patrol apprehensions, or the everyday experiences of people in cities along the U.S.- Mexico border. Data from a survey about perceptions of crime, sense of security and safety in neighborhoods and the city in general shows results that most border city residents feel safe.

“What continues to hurt the McAllen MSA is the ‘collateral damage’ caused by this negative perception of McAllen and regional cities, but the low levels of violence show our area is safe. McAllen is 7th safest city in the nation, and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) showed McAllen was ranked second lowest in Texas for violent crimes.

“Although the anti-immigrant rhetoric, crime and immigration, perceptions of fear of crime continue, McAllen MSA residents do not display any sense of danger living within proximity to the border of Mexico. The high level of federal law enforcement agencies in our area helps deter criminal activity, but so do the increasing job opportunities in the U.S.

“In McAllen there is not a border security crisis, but a humanitarian crisis caused by violence abroad, family separation, and the encampment of asylum seekers in and outside the U.S.

“To address the effect of the state’s border security programs and the negative perception of the Valley being unsafe for tourism, employment and the general economic growth that the rest of the state of Texas is experiencing, we ask our elected officials to help us in the following manner:

  • Encourage public publicity for the Texas Border Region relating to the ‘immigration crisis’ and its negative effect on cities. 
  • Emphasize that Valley cities are the safest cities in the state of Texas according to both state and criminal statistics. 
  • Encourage leaders to recognize the “collateral effect” of the negative border safety rhetoric on cities.”

De La Cruz’s position

Congresswoman De La Cruz struck a different to tone to Darling and Wingert in a recent news release about border security. The McAllen Republican predicted “complete chaos at the border” under President Biden’s “failed” leadership. She said cities in South Texas are now being “overrun” with undocumented immigrants.

Here is what De LaCruz said in a May 11, 2023, news release:

“Perhaps the worst part of the crisis that is now unfolding at our southern border is that it was entirely preventable. The Biden administration knew for months that Title 42 was ending today. 

“There was clear and unmistakable evidence that tens of thousands of migrants planned to cross the border illegally. Under President Biden’s failed leadership, we will go from a crisis to complete chaos at the border. Cities in South Texas are now being overrun, local authorities are overwhelmed, taxpayer resources are strained, and Americans are at greater risk because the president refused to fulfill his most basic constitutional duties. 

“Why? Because Biden and the Democrats are beholden to radical ‘immigrant advocacy’ groups who do not give a damn about immigrants (in fact, they exploit them). Moreover, President Biden mistakenly thinks these problems can be solved by throwing money at our communities. This is insulting. Money, alone, is no substitute for effective border policies.

“Border communities like mine are frustrated with the Biden administration’s lack of leadership and that is why one of the first pieces of legislation I co-sponsored was the impeachment of Secretary Mayorkas. Throughout this crisis, I have been in constant communication with local authorities and our Border Patrol. Today, I will help lead the effort to pass the Secure the Border Act of 2023, the strongest immigration bill ever proposed. 

“However, under the Constitution, Congress’ options are limited so long as an incompetent, senile derelict occupies the Oval Office. For the safety and security of South Texas and the nation, Joe Biden must be voted out of office at the first possible opportunity. He is a disgrace to the presidency and a danger to our nation.”

The McAllen Chamber’s luncheon with De La Cruz appears to be something of a scoop. During last year’s general election campaign, when she was challenging for Congressional District 15, De La Cruz refused to appear at a debate the Chamber tried to host. 

The legislative luncheon takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Thursday June 29, 2023, at the McAllen Performing Arts Center. Sponsors of the luncheon are: The luncheon is sponsored by the City of McAllen, Lone Star National Bank, IBC Bank, McAllen International Airport and McAllen Economic Development Council.  

For more information or to RSVP, contact Gerry Garcia at (956) 682-2871. 

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