TPPF’s States Trust team recently visited the U.S./Mexico border to glean a more holistic understanding of the practical impacts of current U.S. immigration policy. Their visit included San Ygnacio and Laredo, Texas.
Ken Oliver, TPPF’s Senior Director of Right on Immigration, emphasized “our itinerary in Laredo was most helpful for what we are doing in Washington through States Trust and the Right on Immigration initiative. It gave all the members of our team fresh situational awareness and input from key stakeholders in the region, as we address the challenge of border security and related issues.”
TPPF’s staff met with business and community leaders including former Congressman Lamar Smith, members of the Laredo Economic Development Corporation, Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz and his senior staffers, International Bank of Commerce Executive Vice President Gerry Schwebel and Vice President Henry Sauvigne, among many others.
The adverse consequences of the massive abuse of the asylum system that has driven hundreds of thousands of adults and minors from Central America and elsewhere to converge on the border these past 10 months was also in evidence. In fact, a tent city for expedited asylum hearings was going up immediately adjacent to the hotel where the TPPF delegation stayed.
Despite the many challenges, the South Texas community has remained resilient.
John Hostettler, former U.S. Congressman who is now TPPF’s Vice President for States Trust, noted that in Laredo “the ideological spectrum is very diverse. This, along with the relatively low level of violent crime in the area, helps to dispel notions that are prevalent among those who rely too much on mainstream media and Hollywood for their perception of the border.”
The States Trust team also saw firsthand the enormity and intensity of the international trade that flows through the city, to the tune of nearly $1 billion per day. Their itinerary included a meeting with Genaro Villalobos, a supervisor for the City of Laredo’s bridge system.
“It was especially interesting to see how proactive the city has been, and continues to be, in its tens of millions of dollars of infrastructure investments on the toll bridges for all the truck traffic, and how that really pays off for the city as the nation’s top inland port” said Oliver.
We want to sincerely thank our friends in Laredo, Texas for their hospitality and kindness. We plan on returning soon and often!