AUSTIN, Texas – State Rep. Terry Canales says he appreciates the support he has received from the mayors of 21 cities in Hidalgo County for two of his transportation bills.

Canales, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, gave an exclusive interview to the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service about a letter the mayors sent to Gov. Greg Abbott.

The letter, penned by McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos and co-signed by 20 other mayors, praises Canales’ proposed legislation and urges Abbott to support the Edinburg lawmaker’s efforts.

If passed by the Legislature, House Bill 3805 would create a new funding category at the Texas Transportation Commission. If passed by the Legislature, House Bill 4422 would study transportation at the border in order to support HB 3805.

Canales told the Guardian:

“House Bill 3805 instructs the Transportation Commission to create a new funding category in the Unified Transportation Plan for border security and establishing international trade corridors.

“House Bill 4422 aims to address the increasing concerns regarding border security by studying the most effective ways to enhance it through infrastructure investments by the state

“Both bills are focused on the importance of securing the Texas/Mexico border, which is one of the busiest borders in the world, and recognizes the significant economic and national security implications from cross-border traffic. Since 2021, Texas has spent over $4 billion on Operation Lone Star, but none of the this money is currently being spent on the infrastructure necessary to enhance border security while promoting trade.

“Effective border trade can help to enhance border security by reducing the likelihood of illegal or illicit trade activities, such as smuggling or trafficking of drugs, weapons, or people. When border trade is well-managed, it can facilitate legal and legitimate economic activities, while also enabling authorities to better monitor and regulate the movement of goods and people across the border.

“Our state can do a better job of recognizing the potential of technology and transportation infrastructure in improving border security, but we have to study the most effective ways to use these tools to improve the security of the border, including the use of advanced sensors, automated systems, and other technology.”

Mayor Villalobos said: “I felt it was important to express support for Chairman Canales’ bills, which would be extremely beneficial to McAllen and all of Hidalgo County. In fact, the Rio Grande Valley is strongest when we come together as a region, which is why my fellow mayors also felt it important to sign the letter.”

According to Mayor Villalobos, the “bills represent a bold new strategy in the effort to secure the border.” He urged Gov. Abbott to “revisit the state’s current approach to border security and consider the opportunities that Rep. Canales is proposing.”

Edinburg Mayor Ramiro Garza, Jr., concurred.

“The City of Edinburg, alongside the rest of the Rio Grande Valley, heavily depends on the transportation of goods through our international ports of entry to maintain a healthy economy for our residents and the future of our city,” Garza said.

“House Bill 3805 and House Bill 4422 would allow that to become a priority, while simultaneously securing our borders and acknowledging the developments along the Texas-Mexico border that need to be studied to improve supply chains. Cities in the RGV are impacted on a daily basis, and we hope that these efforts help in guiding border security in the right direction.”

Mission Mayor Norie Gonzalez Garza said: “We are a border city, so border security is crucial for us. However, it is a regional concern. This is why local mayors have made a special effort to meet and discuss border security. The Rio Grande Valley needs to be heard, and no better way than coming together and speaking as one. I believe this bill would help our efforts to secure the border and support Border Patrol and other agencies that are tasked with that.”

Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez said: “The City of Pharr stands alongside our Hidalgo County cities in supporting Chairman Canales’ HB 4422 and HB 3805, both of which would enhance our bridge operations, invest in new technology, and ultimately secure the border which is the driving force of our local economies.”

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