McALLEN, RGV – Some economists argue Asia will be the dominant economic power of the 21st Century. But, the Texas Border Coalition believes it does not have to be that way.

In a new 20-page policy paper, the group makes the case for North America. And, it says, the Texas-Mexico border region can play a key role.

“We suggest the world is entering a North American Century during which the United States, Canada and Mexico can harness their mutually reinforcing natural resources, energy and political stability to win the economic competition with Asia and Europe,” says TBC Chairman J.D. Salinas, in an Introduction to the policy paper.

Texas Border Coalition Chairman J.D. Salinas
Texas Border Coalition Chairman J.D. Salinas

The policy paper is titled “Policies and Proposals by the Texas Border Coalition to Advance a North American Century.”

In his Introduction, Salinas says a growing chorus of voices agree with the TBC analysis, such as former CIA Director General David Petraeus, Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Michael O’Hanlon, bipartisan congressional leaders like Michael McCaul and Beto O’Rourke, the George Bush Institute and the Wilson Center.

“A clear eyed analysis of the global economic and security future sees the Western Hemisphere entering the 21st Century in an enviable position straddling both the Transatlantic and Transpacific regional spheres, enjoying over a century of continental peace, heading toward energy independence and – most importantly – possessing a spirit of innovation necessary to dominate industrial and technological competitiveness,” Salinas said.

“To claim this future, the Western Hemisphere must invest in a solid foundation built on first-class education systems, infrastructure and healthcare. It also requires special attention to the keystone of our common economic destiny: modern, secure and efficient borders that facilitate the trade and travel that enable our nations to flourish, while keeping our nations safe.”

Salinas, a former Hidalgo County Judge, says the essays contained in the TBC policy paper focus on ways to shape the future of the Texas-Mexico border region “so that they can facilitate the Western Hemisphere’s competitive economic advantages.”

It includes specific desired outcomes in five issue categories:

•    Border Security – Adopting fair and effective policies that strengthens the border and recognize the economic contributions immigrants make to the U.S. and Texas economies.
•    Healthcare – To ensure a brighter future for border citizens, we must improve access to healthcare.
•    Transportation – If the border region is to realize its economic potential, our roads, bridges and freight lines demand increased attention.
•    Workforce Training and Public Education – The opportunity for Texas to thrive by strengthening the economy of the border is limitless. First, our workforce must be educated, skilled and able to carry the Texas economy forward.
•    Economic Development – Texas must invest in and create an economic engine in the border region that will allow this part of the state to grow and prosper.

Salinas signs off his Forward by saying: “The Texas Border Coalition invites you to join us as we drive our continent toward continued prosperity and competitiveness in the North American Century.”

About the Texas Border Coalition

The Texas Border Coalition is a collective voice of border mayors, county judges, economic development commissions and private businesses focused on issues that affect 2.5 million people along the Texas-Mexico border region and economically disadvantaged counties from El Paso to Brownsville.

TBC works closely with the state and federal government to educate, advocate, and secure funding for transportation, immigration and border security, workforce development, economic development and health care.

J.D. Salinas is its chairman. Vice Chairman is Richard Cortez, a McAllen city commissioner. Treasurer is Eddie Aldrete of IBC Bank. Chairman Elect is Pete Saenz, mayor of Laredo.

The TBC’s executive committee comprises: Robert Garza, mayor of Del Rio, Ramsey English Cantu, mayor of Eagle Pass, Joe ‘Frito’ Salinas, mayor of La Joya, Jim Darling, mayor of McAllen, Ambrosio Hernandez, mayor of Pharr, Fred Brouwen, director of the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, J.J. Zamora, mayor of Port Isabel, Robert Salinas, mayor of Roma, Ben Petty, Sr., of TaxFree Shopping, Aurelio Guerra, county judge of Willacy County, Joe Rathmell, county judge of Zapata County.

TBC’s committee chairs are: Economic Development: Carolyn Petty and Alex Meade; Health: Olga Gabriel; Immigration & Border Security: Monica Weisberg-Stewart, Transportation: Sergio Contreras, Workforce Development: Blas Castañeda.

Foreword to Policies and Proposals by the Texas Border Coalition to Advance a North American Century:

Here is the Foreword to TBC’s Policies and Proposals by the Texas Border Coalition to Advance a North American Century:

The Texas Border Coalition is the voice of 2.4 million Americans in 17 border counties of the 1,250-mile Texas-Mexico border. Ours is a region of contrasts, exhibiting both differences and similarities of language, culture, tradition, and economy. The multi-national, multi-cultural nature of our communities on both sides of the international boundary gives our region a distinct sense of place.

No one cares more about the security of the U.S.-Mexican border than those of us who live, work and raise our families here. As public officials, business owners and families in the border region, we see how quickly our security needs evolve as threats change. A successful border security solution needs to repel threats with the most effective security strategies while preparing to meet new security challenges as the situation changes.

Our shared goal is border security, but true security will not be obtained until Congress enacts comprehensive immigration reform. We support an earned legalization program for the undocumented people who are in the U.S. today. We need an effective guest worker program to prevent the repetition of failed immigration policy and politics. We need more than a limited immigration proposal that balances the ideological and political scales in Congress and the nation. We need sustainable, workable immigration policies that balance supply and demand, provide circularity and stability in times of demographic and economic change for our hemisphere, and guarantee our economic and national security for years to come.

Effective border security opens the door for an expansion of the Western Hemisphere’s economic growth. In 2016, the combined Gross Domestic Product of the United States, Canada and Mexico will total $22 trillion, greater than China, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom combined. U.S. trade with Canada and

Mexico supports nearly 14 million U.S. jobs, and nearly 5 million of these jobs are supported by the increase in trade generated by NAFTA.

Our combined economic success depends on working together to maximize the advantages we enjoy in democratic, free-market systems, operating in geographic proximity in a free trade agreement facilitated by common boundaries.

Over the past decade, the U.S., Canadian and Mexican governments have worked to integrate customs procedures, regulations and handling of documentation to assure that trade flows abide by the rules and regulations of each jurisdiction they cross. As our cross-border clearances have become more efficient, our physical limitations have become a notable impediment to efficient trade with delays at border crossings, bottlenecks and long customer clearance times.

To boost the benefits of our hemispheric cooperation between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, we have to invest in a secure, efficient system of border crossings, as well as educating and training our workers, improving our transportation networks, advancing the health and well-being of our population and establishing policies that foster economic growth.

Rio Grande Guardian business reporter Ena Capucion writes…

PHARR, RGV – The Texas Border Coalition says the American economy will grow more rapidly if Americans purchase goods or services from outside the United States.

TBC will release a press release Sept. 19 with a 2017 policy agenda for presidential candidates as well as state and federal lawmakers. The agenda includes proposals for the 2.4 million Americans living along the 1,250-mile Texas-Mexico border to improve security, healthcare, transportation, economic development and workforce training as well as public education.

Their agenda, entitled “Policies and Proposals by the Texas Border Coalition to Advance a North American Century,” covers the future America can have if the nation partakes in outside commerce.

“If we favor consumers by implementing policies that allow them access to less expensive good, there is more net income, which can be invested in businesses here at home, and more Americans will be employed,” the agenda said.

If the nation purchases goods from outside the country, TBC said there will be more customers for U.S. goods and services.

“A high wage island in a world of low wage jobs suggests that we import cheap raw materials, add a lot of well-paid value by education and innovation, and then export the value-added final products,” the agenda said. “Low tariffs and a well-educated, innovative labor force lead to growth.”

In order to bring the nation one step closer to economic prosperity, TBC said success requires efficient borders; more, better education for more people, especially technical and scientific education; well organized transnational transportation systems; healthcare that improves the well-being and productivity of our people.

“Our agenda is aimed at improving prosperity and well-being in the Western Hemisphere,” the agenda said. “It also intends to address the unique challenges we face on the Texas border related to poverty, geography and investment.”

Editor’s Note: The Rio Grande Guardian has been granted exclusive rights to first publish the Texas Border Coalition’s 20-page policy paper, “Policies and Proposals by the Texas Border Coalition to Advance a North American Century.” We will publish TBC’s A North American Agenda and The Border Region essays in our Saturday PM edition. We will publish TBC’s Border Security and Transportation essays in our Sunday AM edition. We will publish TBC’s Health, Workforce Training & Public Education, and Economic Development essays in our Sunday PM edition.