LAREDO, Texas, oc t 2.- ayor Pete Saenz on Friday, September 27 participated in a Texas Tribune Festival panel in Austin entitled “Both Sides Now” with three other experts to discuss the economy, immigration and other issues specific to international border cities. Panelists also included State Rep. Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso); Mary Walshok, associate vice chancellor of the University of California at San Diego; and Ruth Wasem, clinical professor of public policy practice at the University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs. The panel was moderated by Jean Guerrero, an investigative reporter at KPBS, San Diego’s public television station.
Mayor Saenz touted Laredo’s role as the largest inland port in the United States, with over $235 billion value in trade annually, adding that Mexico is now the largest trading partner with the U.S. and that Laredo handles 40 percent of all U.S. trade with Mexico.
On immigration, Mayor Saenz mentioned that immigration as a whole has a net positive effect on the economy, but that our leaders must work towards comprehensive and fair immigration reform.
Discussing the topic of the border wall, Mayor Saenz explained that the City of Laredo’s officially opposes a physical wall, but it is open to exploring a virtual wall or a bulkhead wall designed as a type of river walk built for public use but coupled with border security technology to allow government agencies to better observe and protect the international border. Mayor Saenz also gave an update on the tent court facilities at the Laredo Port of Entry, adding that the program appears to be working to deter migrants, according to the latest figures provided by U.S. Border Patrol, but perhaps that may be because migrants are not willing to wait in Mexico until their hearing.
“It was certainly a pleasure to discuss so many important border topics with key experts in policy, journalism and academia during the Texas Tribune Festival,” said Mayor Pete Saenz. “I’m grateful to have been able to represent Laredo honorably and showcase our powerful standing, not only among other Texas cities, but globally. The audience had many questions about our city and were surprised to know how important we are to the U.S. economy. People think that the closer you get to the border, the less patriotic the people are. I think Laredo proves that’s not true. We are a modern, fast-growing and diverse international city, with an incredibly strong trade industry and with residents who are extremely proud to be part of the melting pot that is the United States.”