Monday, July 26, 2010

Rick Perry Walking the Tight Rope

Governor Perry has been walking a tight rope lately.  According to the the San Antonio Express-News, to  keep the party faithful happy he rails about the need for protection on the border, but he also needs to depend on part of the hispanic electorate, so he told a gathering of La Raza members that the Arizona law would not be a good fit for Texas.

But I think their reasoning is too simplistic.  Texas and Mexico are bound together by ties of history, geography and commerce that Arizona does not share.

On July 2, 2010 Texas Public Radio's Texas Matters broadcast a show honoring former Texas governor Dolph Briscoe.  Part of the show played some tape from an interview with Briscoe in 2004.  During the interview, host David Martin Davies asked Briscoe what he thought of the proposed Border Fence.  He said he didn't think it would work and it sends a negative psycholigical message: we're fencing you off we don't want you. 

Texas has always been closely tied to Mexico, at one time Texas was actually part of Mexico.  Texas also has a longer border with Mexico than any other state.  The Secretary of State is the Governor's chief liaison for Mexico and border affairs.  According to a speech given by Secretary of State Geoff Conner in 2003

The length of the Texas-Mexico border is around 2/3 of the total U.S.-Mexico border. Over half of all crossing points between the two nations are here in Texas. Mexico is our largest trading partner, accounting for almost half of Texas exports.
Not only do more than half of the border crossings exist on the Texas border, some very large Mexican cities also sit on or near our border.

Monterrey, just 2 hours from Laredo, Texas is the 3rd largest city in Mexico with almost 4 million residents. Ciudad Juarez (1.4 million pop) abuts El Paso (563,000 pop) and is the 8th largest city in Mexico. Nuevo Laredo with a population of 718,000 sits across form Laredo (221,000 pop) on the Texas side. Reynosa has 498,000 people and sits across from McAllen (106,000 pop), Matamoros with 422,000 residents, meets Brownsville (140,000 pop), Ciudad Acuna (145,000 pop) across from Del Rio (37,000 pop), and Piedras Negras (140,000 pop) across from Eagle Pass (22,000 pop).  In every case the city on the Mexican side is at least 2/3 bigger than its sister city on the Texas side.  The three Largest Mexican cities on Arizona border are miniscule by comparison: San Luis Rio (157,000) Nogales (193,000) Agua Prieta (68,000).

I saw a question on Quora asking why there were so many people crossing into the US when they saw the pictures of the bridges over the flooded Rio Grande in Laredo.  My answer, TO SHOP.  Ever since the passage of NAFTA, Mexicans have been able to bring more goods back home, because they were no longer considered contraband.  All of the Texas border towns and most of the cities in south Texas, probably in most of Texas, rely on Mexican Nationals to keep their retail economies running.  Free buses run continuously on the Mexico side to bring shoppers across the border to visit malls on the US side.  And if you shop in San Antonio, you run into Mexican Nationals everywhere talking on their cell phones and walkie-talkies, saying "hey Mom, I'm at Macys and they have a great sale", or "meet me at Marshalls in ten minutes."  If you work retail in SA and you don't speak Spanish, you are at a huge disadvantage.

We also have issues with Mexico over water rights.  Both the Falcon Resevoir and Lake Amistad lie astride the border pretty much half in Texas and half in Mexico.  The Falcon Resevoir runs about 30 miles along the border. During the flooding caused by Hurricane Alex, the release of the Amistad and Falcon dams was a joint decision by the US Parks and Fisheries, Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Mexican government.

I agree with the late Governor Briscoe, Texas does not want to send messages to Mexico saying we don't want them.  It would be bad for our economy and our way of life.

No comments:

Post a Comment