PRESS RELEASE: Congressman Filemon Vela Hosts Bipartisan Hearing on Border Business
Washington, D.C. - U.S. Representative Filemon Vela (D-TX) hosted the bipartisan “Border Business is America’s Business” hearing to highlight commerce along the U.S.-Mexico Border. Representatives Gene Green (D-TX), Susan Davis (D-CA), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Scott Peters (D-CA), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Will Hurd (R-TX), and Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) joined him.
During the hearing, panelists discussed the value of strong relations with Mexico and the importance of commerce along the border. Witnesses included representatives from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, University of Texas San Antonio, National Association of Manufacturers, Toyota Motor of North America, Wilson Center, Borderplex Alliance, Starr Camargo Bridge Company, Borders Melon Company, and the Laredo and San Diego Chambers of Commerce.
“It was an honor to be joined by my colleagues to discuss border commerce at such a critical time,” said Rep. Vela. “Each panelist gave valuable insight into the effects of strong border relations. My district’s unique position along the border is a prime example of the positive impact border commerce has on economic growth, and I’m hopeful that the information shared today will encourage other Members of Congress to look into the benefits of border business."
“The truth is that Canada, Mexico and the U.S. are not competitors – we build things together,” said Congressman Will Hurd, who has more than 800 miles of Texas-Mexico border in his district. “We have an exciting opportunity to upgrade NAFTA in a way that increases border trade, reflects emerging industries, and strengthens North American Competiveness, so that all of our economies benefit.”
“We do not have to choose between a safe border and one that facilitates prosperous international trade and tourism,” said Rep. Scott Peters. “By investing in infrastructure and innovative approaches to protecting the border, we can have a system that keeps Americans safe and supports the export of goods made in America by American workers.”
Congressman Henry Cuellar of Laredo added, “Texas is the number one state when it comes to trade with Mexico. The goods that come through our border ports travel to every part of the United States. I represent strong and robust local economies in Texas that depend on international trade, such as the Laredo Customs District, headquartered in my home town of Laredo and which handled more than $284 billion in trade in 2015. Our two-way trade in goods and services with Mexico is valued at over $583 billion. Today’s press conference and hearing is a way to remind our country that we need to increase trade with our partners in Mexico, not hamper it. I thank my colleagues and witnesses who helped spread our valuable message that border business is America’s business.”
“My constituents feel strongly that our shared border is an asset to the region, and not simply a security concern for this Administration to point to,” said Rep. Susan Davis of San Diego. “We have some incredible models for binational business operations in the San Diego region. It’s critical that we foster the cross border business relationships to the mutual benefit of both countries.”
"Mexico acts more as our partner than our rival," said Leila Aridi Afas, Director, International Public Policy at Toyota North America, during yesterday's hearing. Mark Kroll, Dean of the College of Business and Entrepreneurship at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley added, "We need to make the border region more attractive to manufacturers."
“Yesterday’s panel clearly demonstrated the powerful economic reach of the U.S.-Mexico relationship. As the new Administration sets its foreign policy agenda, I urge them to remember the economic impact severely disrupting this critical relationship would have on businesses and communities on both sides of the border,” Congressman Marc Veasey said.
“I was proud to join colleagues, stakeholders, and experts at today’s Border Caucus hearing,” said Congressman Vicente Gonzalez. “There could not have been a more appropriate time to discuss the importance of cross-border commerce and a strong binational relationship with Mexico – something that benefits the region that I represent and our nation as a whole. Today we heard from members of the business community, the academic community, the manufacturing sector, and the agriculture sector who understand firsthand the need to maintain this relationship and continue to promote growth on the U.S.-Mexico border in a way that benefits both the consumer and the producer. It is essential that we work across party lines and business sectors to find opportunities to build on this relationship rather than destroy it.”