BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ton Garza has told border communities to tell their story and not let those from outside the region set the narrative.

Speaking on a webinar hosted by the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Garza said border residents should also hold its elected leaders accountable.

“Continue to hold them accountable for the things that are important to us in South Texas and along the border,” said Garza, a native of Brownsville, Texas.

“My frustration, was, often times, that it seemed like the policy which most impacted us was driven by individuals in Iowa or Idaho or some other state so removed from the border. Their understanding was largely soundbites and they weren’t soundbites based on reality. So, keep telling our story.”

When telling that story, make sure international trade with Mexico is included, the former ambassador stated. “Trade and commerce are what drives opportunity not only for this generation but for future generations,” Garza said. 

He also spoke up for immigration and immigrants.

“Immigration is something so fundamental to our country and our nature that while we all want safe, secure, and efficient borders, we don’t want to close them to immigration, which has always made us a stronger and better country,” Garza said. “So, I would hold people accountable and then tell them the story.”

The moderator of the webinar was RGVHCC President and CEO Cynthia Sakulenzki. She asked Garza about the recent surge in border crossings by unaccompanied minors.

“We are going through a moment where this sense that there will be a change in policy has led to more disruption along the border,” Garza said.

“I think we will get beyond that, whether it be through expanded processing centers, whether it be with clear lines in terms of what the rules of immigration are going to be.”

Garza noted that another former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Roberta S. Jacobson, is helping the Biden Administration with border policy. He pointed out Jacobson’s recent remarks that “this is not the time to be coming, we are trying to fix this.”

Garza said it might take a little bit of time for things to settle down at the border and that the national guard and/or various .federal agencies may have a greater presence in the region for the next six months or so.

During the webinar, Garza, a former Cameron County Judge and Texas Secretary of State, also spoke about the likely impact of the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

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