LAREDO, Texas – Elected officials from across the South Texas border region are expected to participate in a Border Summit being hosted by IBC Bank and the City of Laredo next week.

The summit will take place Friday, January 27. It is not open to the media or the public.

“We need to be prepared, be ready, that’s why we are having this summit – to have a plan in place (for the new administration in Washington, D.C.),” City of Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz told the Rio Grande Guardian.

The goal is to come up with a draft platform of border issues, such as NAFTA, and border security.

During the interview, Saenz made a reference to a meeting held by five Mexican border governors held in Nuevo Laredo on January 16. Saenz said such events send a clear message of unity.

“I want to remind Trump that the South Texas border area is very much part of the United States and by fixing a region away from the border, you might disrupt economically this region as well,” Saenz said, referring to the help President Trump has promised for states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“We are still part of the United States, and we have needs just as much as any other region. We all have different needs and we need to be careful and how we address those,” Saenz said.

For Saenz, Laredo is still very much dependent on the international trade, which is why the city’s relationship with Mexico is very important.

“Taking off NAFTA would be a huge step back, so I think there’s room for all of us, it is just a matter of choosing the right people,” he added.

The Border Summit will start at 10 a.m. at the IBC Annex Building by Jacaman Road in Laredo.

“The Border Summit is close to the public,” IBC said, in an e-mail sent by KGB Texas, the bank’s marketing agency.

Invitations were sent to all border mayors, and county judges, as well as other political, leaders and officials whose point of view is key.

“Since Laredo is the number one land port, we felt that Laredo needed to be the place for this type of event, but later we are thinking taking it to other cities,” Saenz said. He explained they would begin visiting border cities, but then moving north to San Antonio or Austin, and even other states, having their Mexican counterparts as guests.

Saenz said such meetings send a strong message to Washington, D.C.

“And Trump’s people are listening,” Saenz added.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this story shows Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz at a Texas Border Coalition meeting held in Pharr, Texas, in February, 2016.