El Paso, Juárez a model for teamwork
The other U.S.-Mexico border cities should replicate the way El Paso and Juárez work together on border security and crossing issues, U.S. Rep. William Hurd, R-Texas, said Friday while in El Paso.
"We should use El Paso as an example on how we should do border security and immigration," said Hurd, who was the keynote speaker at the El Paso Central Business Association monthly luncheon at Camino Real Hotel in Downtown El Paso.
Hurd, who was elected in November to represent a 29-county congressional district stretching from Horizon City to his hometown of San Antonio, praised the relationship that exists between El Paso and Juárez. He recognized that there is still work to be done in balancing a secure border and expediting the flow of goods and people.
"We need to let more people in Congress understand that, when we talk about the border, we should talk about commerce as well because it is vital to our economy," he said. "It is unfortunate that some of my colleagues still do not understand."
Hurd said he has worked to change the false perception that the border is dangerous by inviting his fellow lawmakers to visit El Paso and Juárez. Once the lawmakers are in El Paso, Hurd shows them the importance of the border in helping the U.S. compete in the global economy.
"Part of my job is to change this perception and get them down here. But it a slow process," the ex-CIA agent and member of the House Committee on Homeland Security said.
During the luncheon, Hurd talked about his successes in Washington, D.C., like the recent passage of a bill to make sure U.S. Border Patrol agents will not have their overtime pay cut, as was suggested in a new bill governing overtime pay for agents.
The bill, which was co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, stopped the Department of Homeland Security from cutting agents' pay by an average of $300 per month despite working the same amount of hours.
He also talked about his efforts to encourage the Department of Commerce to accept a proposal from Mexico's state-owned petroleum company, PEMEX, to swap light U.S. oil for heavy Mexican oil.
Earlier this year, Hurd and U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, co-authored a letter to Secretary Penny Pritzker urging the agency to loosen a contentious ban on exporting domestic oil.
Hurd said the new policy along with Mexico's recent energy reforms, will strengthen the trade relationship between both countries and result in more investments and creation of jobs in the United States and Mexico.
"It is also the first step on being less dependent (on oil) we are on other nations," he said.