RIO GRANDE CITY, Texas – The Rio Grande Valley is much more than an immigration crisis and it is time its leaders correct that false narrative.

This is the view of Rio Grande City Mayor Joel Villarreal.

“The Rio Grande Valley, over the course of the last several months, has been in the spotlight because of immigration concerns, because of concerns about a humanitarian crisis,” Villarreal told the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service in an exclusive interview.

“We need to promote who we really are. We are more than this immigration crisis. The Rio Grande Valley has to correct that false narrative, this mischaracterization of the Rio Grande Valley as a whole.”

Villarreal gave his interview at the conclusion of the second of his Bi-National Roundtable Program discussions. The event was held at the Holiday Inn & Suites in Rio Grande City. The roundtable drew elected officials and chamber of commerce leaders from across Starr County and its neighboring communities south of the Rio Grande. The keynote speaker was Andres Guerra, port director for the international bridges of Roma and Rio Grande City. U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar’s office was represented at the meeting.

“We are a great place to live, work and to forge the American Dream. When you look at what we offer in the Rio Grande Valley, we are gradually becoming the green energy capital of Texas, our cost of living is below the national average, we have 11 international bridges, billions of dollars in trade, every conceivable commodity and service to destination USA,” Villarreal said.

“We have a strong and young workforce, we have space exploration now. We have our sales. We have safety. We have the safest communities in the state of Texas, if not the nation. And when you are looking at our bi-cultural, bi-national, bilingual identity that serves as our strength, we are in a great place.”

The national spotlight on immigration has led to a mischaracterization of what the Valley is and what it has to offer, Villarreal said.

“Unfortunately, right now we are being characterized as immigration crisis, humanitarian crisis. But what we do know is that we had a humanitarian crisis under every president for the last several decades. We have experienced these immigration crises and humanitarian crises before. And that is something that we need to continue to promote: our own narrative, and correct that false narrative because we are much more than this whole immigration crisis.”

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a three-part series on the 2nd Bi-National Roundtable Program hosted by Rio Grande City Mayor Joel Villarreal. Part Two will be posted in our next edition.

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