Border Violence and the Texas Economy
The Panel: Aaron Pena, Texas House of Representatives
Martin Cuellar, Webb County Sheriff
Steven McCraw, Director, Tx Dept of Public Safety
Raul Salinas, Mayor of Laredo
Mexico is failing and the spillover into Texas of drug violence in undeniable.
Steven McCraw - Drugs and humans go north; cash and weapons go south. Houston is now ground zero for Mexican gangs. Texas Department of Safety has tracking of human and drug activities coming up from Mexico into Texas in databases broken out into every possible category.
Rep Aaron Pena - Claims border safety is not as public perceives. His district goes to the river and he lives about 10 miles from the border. He said the danger comes once you cross the border. For example, El Paso has been named a safe city while sister city Juarez is most dangerous. Drug trafficking has moved from Columbia into Mexico and drug cartels control those who would cross or swim the river to enter the U.S. Mexico is feeling the effects of brain and money drain. Wealthy and successful Mexicans are moving into Texas cities like Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. This is creating cities of women because men leave and don't come back. Pena says it is imperative that the U.S. help Mexico re-establish the rule of law. We must demand the federal government step up and secure the border - it is the job of the federal government.
Raul Salinas - The Mayor of Laredo is no fan of Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs. He uses the two of them as examples of those who stir up harsh rhetoric on the airwaves yet have not visited the border themselves, or at least not his piece of the rock. He stressed the need for both sides of the border to work together. Also, with $173 billion in trade generated at the border, he calls that proof that the border is not broken. He has experienced success in reducing violent crime by 20% - now the lowest since 2006. With the money generated and jobs created by the strong trade agreements along the border, the U.S. can't afford to allow Mexico to go down.
Martin Cuellar - Sheriff Cuellar is the brother of U.S. Rep Cuellar. Webb County borders Falcon Lake and Neuvo Laredo. He has created strong bonds with law enforcement in neighboring counties, along the Mexican border and with the Mexican military. He utilizes these connections to pursue his job of public safety in his county. He said Mexico needs a lot of help and he frequently receives requests for help. He mentioned a sit-down meeting with Director of HHS as a member of a delegation travelling to Washington, D.C.
All three of the Hispanic members of the panel - a mayor, a county sheriff, and a state representative - all stressed the need for cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico as a common sense strategy. Trade agreements create jobs and produce revenue for families along the border, who then use that money in their communities. All spoke of personal and family ties dating back generations. All spoke about the intermingling between Texas and Mexican residents along the border. All want the federal government to do its job and secure our border.