Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) said people who want a wall constructed between the U.S. and Mexico do not understand the “interconnection” between both countries.
“The Rio Grande doesn’t divide but actually unites us. There’s some people that see it a different way. They want to see the Rio Grande as a division. They want to see a wall and it’s just unfortunate they have that perspective. They don’t understand the interconnection we have with Mexico,” said Cuellar at a conference on “Building a Competitive U.S.-Mexico Border.”
“An import from China will have about 4 percent of American products in it. If something comes in from the United States, it will have about 40 percent and just during this trade agreement within my own party – I don’t want to say a heated discussion – but I had a lively discussion with one of our ranking persons on that because they started blaming Mexico on this and I said ‘woah,’” he added.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would build a “great wall” on the border and make Mexico pay for it.
As of 2013, fencing was present on almost 700 miles of the 2,000-mile border.
Cuellar, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said every day there’s about $1.3 billion in trade between the U.S. and Mexico.
“Six million American jobs have been created here because of Mexico and people just don’t understand the economics, but they will see the security part and that’s all they see,” he said.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, recently said Customs and Border Protection agents are only stopping about 5 to 10 percent of the illegal drugs coming across the southwest border into the U.S.
“Now if you are letting 90 percent or 95 percent of illegal drugs come into this country, when you are spending about $25 billion per year – when you add up all the spending at all the different agencies – you see how completely unsecure our border is, and that’s a real problem for our national security,” Johnson said.
Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), a member of the Homeland Security Committee, said his district covers more of the border than any other.
“We can secure our border and facilitate the movement of goods and services and people and animals at the same time,” he said.
“Let’s make sure we’re getting all the good traffic back and forth, let’s make it faster, let’s make it smoother and have Border Patrol and ICE focus on the folks that are really trying to do our two countries harm.”
In a keynote speech at the conference, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) explained his support for the trade agreement that passed the Senate but was blocked by House Democrats.
“As a whole, this is something that we must do. People from my political party find ourselves in the strange position of agreeing with President Obama 100 percent on this and indeed some of the criticism for Republicans has been, ‘why would you want to give the president more authority?’ Well, it’s because we agree with him on this point,” he said.
“We can disagree on others and I hope we can actually conceive of those two concepts at the same time in our brains – that we can agree on some things and disagree on others and work on the things we agree on.”
Cornyn, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he is “all in when it comes to trade” after NAFTA and observing the benefits for Texas.
“I still remember when Ross Perot was talking about the giant sucking sound that would become NAFTA and I haven’t seen it. I’ve just seen a net benefit to my state and to the country and to both of our United States and Mexico,” he said.