U.S./MEXICO BORDER COUNTIES COALITION WILL MEET IN LAS CRUCES

U.S./MEXICO BORDER COUNTIES COALITION WILL MEET IN LAS CRUCES

Doña Ana County Commissioner Carlos Garza has persuaded the U.S./Mexico Border Counties Coalition to hold its spring meeting in Las Cruces. That meeting is tentatively scheduled for late May or early June of 1999.

Garza, who attended the coalition’s winter meeting Jan. 22 and 23 in Laredo, Texas, said he is excited by the prospect of bringing in the delegates to Las Cruces so that they can see one of the fastest-growing border counties first-hand as they deliberate on strategies designed to address border issues.

“Besides the obvious economic impact of bringing a meeting of this kind to Doña Ana County, I am hopeful that the delegates of the other three states and 17 counties in the coalition will walk away with a greater understanding of the issues that affect our area and its people,” Garza said.

Key challenges the coalition already is targeting, Garza said, include asking the federal government for reimbursement of health and public safety service costs related to the care of undocumented immigrants. The coalition also called on the U.S. Census Bureau to redouble its efforts and avoid the historical trend of undercounting along the border.

“Billions of federal, state and local tax dollars will be allocated and spent based on the accuracy of the census count,” said Luna County Commissioner Dennis Armijo. “This affects future decisions on education, health care, job training and other quality-of-life services. It is critical to our future that this census be the most accurate possible.”

Armijo, a member of the coalition’s executive committee, represented New Mexico at the Laredo conference, alongside Garza.

On environmental issues, the coalition passed a strongly worded resolution designed to get the attention of Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“The boundary between Mexico and the United States is an artificially drawn line,” said Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson. “Many counties [along the border] are suffering the consequences of air and water pollution and have no ability to protect their citizens when the source of the pollution comes from another country. The coalition believes it is imperative to work collaboratively with the federal governments of the U.S. and Mexico, as well as with U.S. companies operating in Mexico, to address this situation.”

The U.S./Mexico Border Counties Coalition was established in September of 1998 to “provide a non-partisan, consensus-based policy and technical forum to address challenges facing county governments located on the U.S./Mexico border.”