U.S.-Mexico Border Mayors Conference: Rhetoric Surrounding Border Violence Must Stop

Tucson-  The inaugural U.S. - Mexico Border Mayors Conference has come to an end, and a lot was covered, too much for one post.  The immigration blog will do two more posts on some of the Border Security statistics shared as well as one on infrastructure and capacity issues surrounding the Border.  This post will focus on what was far and away the most talked about issue at the conference: the need for both politicians and the national media to tone down the rhetoric on border violence.

Mayors from Nogales and Yuma Arizona, El Paso, Laredo and Brownsville Texas, and Calexico, California repeatedly stressed that their cities are safe, and that the impression that their cities are raging out of control hurts the overall economic livelihood of their cities.

In speech after speech the Mayors of these cities repeated the refrain that while they support securing the border, they insisted that the depiction of their cities as out of control war zones is simply not true. Further security along the border while welcome is not what they need the most. What they wanted more then anything was the ability to continue to facilitate the movement of people, trade and business from Mexico in and out of their cities in an efficient manner.

The most pernicious problem faced by the Mayors at the conference was not out of control violence on the American side of the border (though they did note that the violence in Mexico is bad, but it rarely spills over, more on this in a later post) but rather it is the rhetoric surrounding border violence that scares both industries and tourists from doing business in their states.  In an economic downturn the loss of this type of business is devastating to their cities.

When all was said and done the theme in these meetings was not security, though it was discussed quite a bit, but rather that the Administration's border plan was starting to show some dividends. While security should continue to be stressed these mayors seemed eager to find ways to continue to harness and improve upon the flow of goods to and from the border.

Commerce, Tourism and the flow of people as forms of human capitol are now the most pressing issues facing these mayors.  What they wanted more than anything was a better way to continue to harness the economic dividends from their neighbors to the south. Tourist spending, from Mexicans legally crossing the border to spend money, then leave is big business for many of these border cities and bad publicity hurts their bottom line.

This is not a Pollyannaish vision of the border, nor is this the opinion of NDN, it is what was conveyed by the mayors at the conference. Ultimately in these times of economic uncertainty, mayors repeated that what they needed more then anything is revenue.  They did not convey a need for open borders, nor did they talk about military lockdown on the border, what was stressed over and over was how best to work in conjunction with their sister cities across the border for the economic benefit of both American and Mexican interests.

Lastly and perhaps most fittingly they wished that the national media and Governors who demonize the border, would just stop, or at the very least visit their cities.

More on the conference shortly…