FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                           PRESS CONTACT:

April 24, 2015                                                                                    Brenda Rangel 956.564.1527


PRESS RELEASE: Congressman Vela, Brownsville Mayor Martinez Emphasize Importance of Special Secure Economic Zones and West Rail Opening to Acting Mexican Ambassador to U.S.


WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, and Mayor of Brownsville Tony Martinez met with Acting Mexican Ambassador to the United States Alejandro Estivill on Thursday.  Topics discussed included Special Secure Economic Zones on the U.S.-Mexico border, the timeframe of completion of the West Rail project, and reopening the dialogue on the proposed Weir Dam on our southern border.


“Our meeting with Ambassador Estivill represents a positive step forward on pressing issues in South Texas and in U.S.-Mexico relations generally,” said U.S. Rep. Vela, Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security.


Establishment of Special Secure Economic Zones on the U.S.-Mexico border, similar to those proposed for southern Mexican states by President Enrique Peña Nieto in late 2014, would help address illegal immigration and security concerns by focusing on job creation and economic development in the region.


“Economic prosperity and enhanced security though Special Secure Economic Zones will reduce violence in the cities of Matamoros and Reynosa and help create a safer and more secure environment for law-abiding citizens,” U.S. Rep. Vela said.


The groundwork for Special Secure Economic Zones in Mexico’s northern border region has been laid with the BiNational Economic Development Zone program, also known as BiNED.  This development plan, with funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, encompasses the mega region of the Rio Grande Valley from Brownsville to McAllen and the northern region of Tamaulipas from Matamoros to Reynosa.


“I am committed to supporting and working with the Mexican government to return peace to Tamaulipas through the complete eradication of drug cartels, organized criminal elements and drug traffickers – this is a top priority for me, my constituents, and all those who live and work on the U.S.-Mexico border,” U.S. Rep. Vela said.


As part of their discussions, U.S. Rep. Vela and Mayor Martinez spoke to Ambassador Estivill about the timeframe for opening the West Rail Bridge. The West Rail project will redirect the railway to the northwestern area of Brownsville reducing traffic congestion at various points in the city.


“Ambassador Estivill assured us the opening of the West Rail is forthcoming by the summer,” Mayor Martinez said. “This meeting helps us better plan a timeframe for the opening of West Rail and reassures us we are on the right track. This is welcome news for the City of Brownsville.”


U.S. Rep. Vela and Mayor Martinez also discussed pending water issues with the Acting Ambassador including the need to engage stakeholders from the U.S. and Mexico to revisit an effort known as the Weir Dam. The Weir Dam would help ensure water availability through a reservoir for the region and would be located on the Rio Grande River.


Earlier on Thursday, U.S. Rep. Vela, Mayor Martinez and Cameron County Commissioner David Garza met with senior White House officials to discuss the same issues.