NDN and the New Policy Institute welcomed a delegation of officials from the US side of the southwest border region. At meetings at NDN/NPI and in the White House, the delegation met with representatives from the National Economic Council, the Domestic Policy Council, the Office of Public Engagement and the Departments of State, Commerce and Homeland Security.
For the public portion of the day we were joined by Texas border Congressman Silvestre Reyes and Henry Cuellar for a panel discussion featuring local law enforcement officials from the region, on the successes and the challenges that leaders from the region are facing.
Congressman Reyes noted: “Every time the words war zone are used, we lose business opportunities throughout the U.S.-Mexico border. New businesses and investors are always looking for places to set up shop. Our region has one of the most affordable costs of living and our culture, people, weather and location makes us perfect for many expansions and starts ups.”
“The border is not in chaos,we are not at ‘Ground Zero,” Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino stated echoing Congressman Reyes comments
Congressman Cuellar also felt that the rhetoric around border violence is overstated: “The Coast Guard’s analysis provides concrete, factual information that indicates that our communities north of the Rio Grande border are safe,” said Congressman Cuellar. “We must continue working with law enforcement agencies at every level of government to make sure that our communities continue to enjoy these safety levels and at the same time, ensure that our men and women in law enforcement are trained and equipped to continue doing the invaluable work they do to keep our borders safe.”
The Laredo Congressman also focused on the need to improve the infrastructure of the border in order to create a better integrated region, noting that the outdated ports of entry have stifled business flow: “It’s a 14th century solution to a 21st century problem.” Cuellar went on to say that what was needed was more investment in the ports of entry as well as better disbursement of funds to local law enforcement officials who often have to deal with the problems of long wait times and other problems associated with the region.
“Our goal today is to let leaders from the border region tell their story in their own words,” said NDN/NPI President Simon Rosenberg. “While there are clear challenges in the region, a great deal of progress had been made in recent years. Crime on the US side of the border has dropped, illegal migration has slowed, seizures of bulk cash, illegal guns and drugs have increased and trade with Mexico is expanding. Mexico is now the 2nd largest export market for American goods, and our third largest trading partner. Trade with Mexico now equals trade with the UK, Germany and Japan combined, and no region in America benefits more from this remarkable flow of trade than our border region with Mexico.”