A United RGV Visits the Nation’s Capital

Written by Jacqueline Arias of the Rio Grande Guardian

WESLACO, RGV – A unified delegation from the Rio Grande Valley visited Washington, D.C., in a historic trip to speak about the misconceptions of the border region and the possibility of increasing border resources.

Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, held a phone conference on Wednesday with the RGV delegation to discuss what they achieved on the trip and on tackling the negative reputation that the border region receives. Cuellar represents the western end of the Valley.

“Living on the border, representing part of the Valley, I see officials from Austin, officials from Washington DC, that when they talk about the border they paint it in a negative light, and in my opinion, they’re wrong,” Cuellar said. “The border is safer.”

Cuellar explained the purpose of his trip was to highlight the border region and how a message of unity from the border can create opportunities for resources.

“The reason this trip is important, in my opinion, is two folds,” the Congressman said. “Number one, this allows the Valley and the border to talk about the positive aspects of the border, a positive story coming out of the border, number one. Number two, coming in as a united front, this will allow the border to come in and ask for resources in the border.”

Rose Benavidez, president of the Starr County Industrial Foundation, joined the RGV delegation to explain how a united voice from the Valley can help provide funding opportunities from different government agencies for programs the border region needs.

“What we have found is that we’ve always made trips individually or independently, but this collective effort to share a voice and a unified message of not just want the needs are in the Rio Grande Valley, but also the story of the benefits and the story of the opportunity that exist in the Rio Grande Valley,” Benavidez said.

“But something we were real fortune to do with the Rio Grande Valley Partnership and we hope this is the beginning of what’s going to be a long standing trip to D.C., but we were also able to accomplish thanks to Congressman Cuellar and our other Valley delegation, was the idea that we were able to meet a lot of agencies and a lot of individuals that were able to provide funding opportunities, proposal opportunities, but give us guidance in how we can bring more dollars, but more importantly more programs to the Rio Grande Valley.”

Sergio Contreras, president and CEO of RGV Partnership, organized the trip that had business, community and education leaders from all four counties in the Valley. Contreras said the RGV delegation met with several members of Congress, government agencies and foundations, such as, the National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation, the US Economic Development Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, the US Small Business Administration, General Services Administration, the Department of Justice, the Wilson Center, and the Border Trade Alliance, according to Congressman Cuellar.

Shirley Reed, the president of South Texas College, spoke about the “master plan” of the Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence at STC, which will provide specialized training for law enforcement officials, and how the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice can help the $70 million program.

“We had an opportunity to meet with the Department of Justice and to learn that they do provide free training in the full spectrum of law enforcement,” Reed said. “They’re available to come to the Valley to put on training. They want to be a partner. They helped us understand what it takes to be a partner. We also met with the Department of Homeland Security; they were quite impressed with the master plan. They certainly concurred that this is something that really makes sense, but it was going to take the collaboration of several state, federal, and local agencies to make this a reality. So it was an extremely productive couple of days.”

Rep. Cuellar recommended the RGV delegation return to Washington in February before the House Appropriations Committee decides on the new budget in March 2018.

Contreras says they will return to follow up with the different agencies they met with to continue the conversation of expanding border resources.

“It provides us the opportunity to, in the sense of, one, in supporting our Congressional delegation, and meet here to take some action as we go back to the Valley and follow up with those different agencies and engage in that conversation,” Contreras said.

Congressman Cuellar is optimistic a united RGV delegation will be just as productive as the other delegations from Laredo and San Antonio that represent South Texas.

“I’ve seen this very effectively done for Laredo, very effectively done for San Antonio, now the valley is coming in with a united voice which I think will be very effective.”

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U.S. Senators Cornyn and Cardin Lead Bipartisan Group

Senators aim to affirm Strategic U.S.-Mexico Partnership in Resolution

The United States and Mexico have long relied on a strong, strategic partnership in the areas of defense, national security, and trade.  The resolution outlines our shared cultural and economic ties and highlights areas of cooperation including votes at the United Nations; defense, security, and law enforcement partnerships such as the Merida Initiative; and efforts by the Nieto administration to reduce domestic production of illegal drugs and extradite criminals to the United States.  The resolution reaffirms this relationship by supporting continued diplomatic, economic, and security cooperation between the two countries and fostering a relationship that is based on mutual respect and the promotion of shared democratic values and principles.

“The United States and Mexico have long benefited from a symbiotic relationship in the areas of trade, defense, and national security,” said Sen. Cornyn. “It is vitally important, particularly for Texans, to ensure this strategic partnership is maintained by continuing to support economic and diplomatic cooperation between our two countries.” 

“This bipartisan resolution is an important reaffirmation of the enduring partnership and friendship between the United States and Mexico. From diplomacy to security, immigration to trade, the United States is safer and stronger when we work together with Mexico,” said Sen. Cardin, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “With over one million Americans living in Mexico and tens of millions of Mexican-Americans here in the U.S., our people share common values and unbreakable bonds that transcend politics.”

“Over the past few months, the United States’ relationship with Mexico has been in the spotlight for all of the wrong reasons.  But the fact is many of the challenges facing the United States cannot be effectively confronted, let alone solved, in a responsible way without cooperating and strategically planning with Mexico,” said Sen. Menendez,  Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere.  “As the U.S. and Mexico continue to be inextricably linked by geography, people, and shared economic and security interests, this bipartisan resolution reaffirms the importance that our two countries work towards strengthening our relationship, breaking down barriers and forging new areas of cooperation and growth.”

“The United States and Mexico share more than just a border—we have a deep and unbreakable bond rooted in mutual respect and a strong economic and political partnership,” said Sen. Durbin. “We must protect and strengthen this relationship to ensure that Mexico remains one of our closest allies and trading partners.”

“U.S. security and economic prosperity hinges on a strong relationship with our neighbor Mexico,” said Sen. McCain. “In my state of Arizona, over 100,000 jobs are directly dependent on trade with Mexico, and the free flow of goods and services across the border has contributed to unparalleled economic growth and development. We must do more to revitalize the spirit of partnership between our two countries and continue to strengthen our bilateral cooperation.” 

To read the full resolution click HERE

2017 RGV Legislative Tour

We are so very grateful for all of our sponsors, hosts, and visiting legislators for helping us make this a productive experience for everyone.

Our Board of Directors are heartened to see this group being so attentive and inquisitive throughout our journey through the RGV.

The purpose of this tour is to engage our local communities and supporters in a direct conversation with our policy makers. Stay connected here for additional media coverage.

Thank you,
Sergio Contreras, CEO & President – RGV Partnership