MISSION, RGV – Texas Border Coalition Day will be at the state Capitol in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 1, 2017, to let members of the legislature know that there is more to the border than what was said during the presidential election.

Texas Border Coalition (TBC) is an organization comprised of cities and counties along the Texas-Mexico border. J.D. Salinas III, the chairman of TBC and a former Hidalgo County judge, said TBC Day at the State Capitol will run from the evening of Jan. 31, to Feb 1, 2017.

The event will be held in conjunction with the ongoing 85th Texas Legislative session beginning Jan. 10, and ending May 29, 2017. TBC Day is open to the community on Jan. 31 to suggest strategies on what must be done on the border.

Texas Border Coalition chairman J.D. Salinas is interviewed by reporters at a TBC event in Pharr, Texas, in February, 2016. (Photo: RGG/Steve Taylor)

“It’s important today that we unite as a border from Brownsville to El Paso–1,200 miles of border and say these are the things that are important to say on one message and make sure that people realize there’s more to the border than what is being said on the media,” Salinas said.

Salinas spoke about TBC’s legislative agenda in an exclusive interview with the Rio Grande Guardian while paying a visit to Mission Economic Development Corporation’s Center for Education and Economic Development.

Much of what TBC would like to raise awareness on is the reality of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the talk of building a border wall blockading Mexico. NAFTA was signed into law in 1993 by President Bill Clinton to lower trade restrictions between the United States, Canada and Mexico.

During the first presidential debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the Republican nominee Donald Trump, who is now President-elect, Trump said NAFTA is the worst trade deal ever signed in the United States.

However, Salinas said NAFTA is a key part of the American economy.

“The number of goods and services that were doubled-down in Texas when NAFTA was passed is 478 percent,” Salinas said. “When you look at NAFTA, it’s a driving force of our economy. It’s not perfect, but we need to look at it and try to make sure it continues and make sure that we have the infrastructure … to make sure that we have commerce throughout the United States.”

Other campaign rhetoric included the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. When Trump announced his candidacy, Trump said he will build a “great, great wall on our southern border.” Because of this, Salinas said it’s time to double-down and educate more members of Congress and the state about the message the wall will send to Mexico.

“Building a wall on the border is the perfect way to show your neighbor that you don’t respect them,” Salinas said. “Our economy is hinged on Mexico whether we like it or not. … We need to take a stronger role [and] make a stronger relationship with Mexico to fight not only those who want to do harm to the United States, but also to help our economy and make it grow.”

TBC has a legislative agenda and will openly take suggestions and feedback until TBC Day. Salinas said to get involved, get engaged and to make sure there is one voice at the Texas Border Coalition.

Editor’s Note: In October, 2016, Rio Grande Guardian editor Patricia Fogarty produced a five-part series on the Texas Border Coalition’s legislative agenda. Click here, here, here, here and here to read the series.