San Diego’s mayor indicated he doesn’t want wall-building at the southern border to dampen trade opportunities or “cross-border communication” with Tijuana.
Kevin Faulconer, a Republican who has served since 2014, is in Washington this week along with other city leaders from across the country for the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting.
“We’ve had border fencing as part of San Diego for decades,” Faulconer noted to CNN today. “…Just this last year, we were named the safest big city in America. We’re proud of that. And I’m proud of our relationship with our neighbors right next door in Mexico.”
“You know, I don’t — I don’t talk about building walls, I talk about building bridges and increasing that communication, increasing that flow, and that’s really what defines our border region in San Diego,” he added.
Faulconer noted $60 billion in annual trade with San Diego that’s “incredibly important,” with cooperation and communication “we’re very proud of in San Diego.”
Asked if there’s a national emergency on the border with human and drug smuggling, Faulconer replied that “the government needs to open” as the shutdown over border wall funding is hurting federal agencies such as the Coast Guard.
“We’re a Coast Guard city. They’re out protecting us. And the fact that they are not getting their paychecks makes no sense at all,” he said.
“We have a great positive relationship with Mexico… [the] Tijuana mayor crosses into San Diego and we talk all the time, and vice versa. It’s about neighbors working together. And that’s my very clear message about a binational region that works, that’s a competitive advantage. That’s a strength. Not only for San Diego and California, but for our country. And why it’s particularly important that we get the USMCA, the new trade agreement, across the finish line here. That’s a benefit for everyone.”
Faulconer warned that closing the border, as President Trump has warned he might do, “would be devastating.”
“Very clearly, we need a safe and secure and open border, for that flow of trade and commerce. This is not just for San Diego, but for California and the country,” he said. “You know, I’ve been pushing for investments in more personnel, more — you know, the infrastructure itself at the border. We’re the largest land port of entry crossing in North America, over 100,000 people every day. We’re actually looking at making another border crossing at Otay Mesa, with smart secure technology. That’s what we need to be doing, is opening that up, building bridges.”
“Free trade works. We’re a great binational border region of that example,” he added. “It’s a story of success.”