WASHINGTON — Mayors from U.S.-Mexico border cities urged Congress to pass immigration reform and invest in improved ports of entry, moves they said would lead to greater diplomacy and help the economies of both countries.
“We should never let border security get in the way of the economy,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said.
Stanton was joined by mayors of Laredo, Texas, Las Cruces, N.M., and Torreon, Mexico, at the 21st Century Border Initiative meeting last week in Washington.
The Democratic think tank has been holding meetings and backing research in an effort to support a 2010 agreement between the U.S. and Mexican governments that called for improved trade and travel between the two countries.
Arizona made headlines when lawmakers passed SB 1070, a get-tough law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration by, among other things, allowing police to determine whether someone they arrest is in the country legally.
Stanton said he wants to end the political “divisiveness” and reform Arizona’s image – which he said has suffered from the law — to draw back Mexican tourism that has fallen in recent years and encourage trade. He said Arizona has fallen way behind Texas and California as a foreign trading partner with Mexico.
All the mayors pointed to the falling number of illegal border crossings and improved security in border towns like El Paso, Texas, as evidence that it is time to act on immigration reform to improve economic relations with Mexico.
Mexico’s growing middle class, improvements in education and housing, and an economy ranked 13th in the world demonstrate its value as a trade partner, said Alan Bersin, chief diplomatic officer for the Department of Homeland Security.
Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas said he always thought the idea of building a wall to separate the two countries was ridiculous and bridges of friendship are necessary to foster the trade that is already booming in Texas.
“People need to come to the border to see what is happening,” he said.
Salinas said that any immigration reform package should include elements of the DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for certain immigrants who were brought here illegally as children.
Congress should “love those ‘dreamers’ who have worked so hard to get an education,” Salinas said, not leave undocumented immigrants who have come to work here “in the shadows.”
Eduardo Olmos, mayor of Torreon in the Mexican state of Coahuila, which borders Texas, said that Mexico needs to address its own security problems in addition to getting immigration reform in the U.S.
He said his city had 761 murders last year, but that he has revamped the city’s police force. He is optimistic that the leadership of President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto will improve security and the economy in both countries.
“We have a lot of hope invested in this partnership,” Olmos said.
- 2016 college football rivalry games you simply can't miss
- New treatment offers hope for migraine sufferers
- 11 stadiums to watch your favorite football team
- Shopping for a TV? Best models for 2016
- The new beer pairing guide for holiday foods
- Avoid this holiday plumbing disaster in your home
- 7 tips to avoid holiday weight gain
- New treatments mean better prostate cancer survival rates
- 5 of the scariest things found in drains
- 6 tips to create the best family movie night
- New bone marrow procedure holds promise for healing pain
- The best places to celebrate Fall in Phoenix
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- Diet, exercise and aspirin: 3 tools to fight colon cancer
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl