On Jan. 4, Iowa Public Radio interviewed Pete Saenz, mayor of Larado, Texas and chairman of the Texas Border Coalition. Saenz was in Washington on behalf of the Coalition, comprised of mayors and judges in southern border cities, and made clear that while all members favor border security, they do not favor a physical wall.
First, Saenz said the terrain near Laredo and El Paso was, in itself, a “major effective barrier.” He pointed out the unevenness of the terrain would make it difficult and prohibitively expensive to construct a wall. The “virtual” border currently provided by technology is working well.
In addition, he and the mayor of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico “have a very good relationship” and communicate often.
Saenz added that Laredo is the No. 1 land port in the entire Americas, and it would be “catastrophic” to America’s trade to close the border to the south. Laredo facilitates $200 billion in trade with Mexico.
If you were a decision-maker on the construction of a $5 billion barrier, wouldn’t you pay attention to the mayors of the cities who actually live along that border?
Think how far $5 billion could go to erect “tent courts” on this side of the entry points. Send a bevy of immigration attorneys and judges, and facilitate the tremendous boondoggle of asylum-seekers who have the right to have their cases heard. They could have their day in court, and possibly fill jobs so desperately needed throughout the country.
Kay E. Graber