Laredo councilors respond to the mayor’s letter at the border wall


Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz wrote in an opinion piece to LMT last week that there was no point in fighting the border wall and barbed wire along the river. However, some city council members seem to think differently.

All Laredo council members were asked for their opinion on the mayor’s letter and their thoughts on fighting for what the townspeople also see as divisive.

“While I respect Mayor Pete Saenz’s opinion, I have to say that I totally disagree with his arguments on the matter,” said Mayor Pro-Tem and District IV Councilor Alberto Torres. “The city council has consistently voted unanimously to fight the border wall, and we have expressed this effort to our team of lawyers who have been at the forefront of this matter. It is important and vital that we continue to fight the border wall well, as building it will hamper our relationship with Mexico and, as a result, damage our local economy and tourism. “

Torres said he was against illegal entry into the US, but a border wall was not an answer to that threat.

He said Saenz’s letter came as a surprise to him after discovering that the city council and even the mayor himself had not requested the construction of the border wall.

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“Although Mayor Saenz made it very clear that his letter was an editorial statement, I have to admit that he surprised me,” said Torres. “The city council voted together several times to continue the fight against the border wall. It was shocking that the mayor went against the consensus of the entire city council. I respect his opinion, but I would have hoped he would have stood by the Council and the majority of the people we represent as elected officials. “

However, other council members said they understand that the mayor’s comments relate to what is possible within the city authority rather than what he would prefer if he had such authority.

“As councilors, we need to align our relationships with state and federal partners with the wishes of the people we represent,” said Dr. Marte Martinez, Councilor for District VI. “The mayor’s points are wise and very well received. Regardless of the likely inevitable outcome, this council represents the wishes of its citizens and, ultimately, our aim must be to achieve the best possible outcome for the entire city. “

District VIII councilor Roberto Balli also advises that there is a need for city-federal government collaboration. But the Laredoans need to be met, and the local leaders are the ones who know what’s best for the city despite the federal government’s plans, he said.

“It was only recently that the federal government worked on just a few issues without real cooperation – the tent court, the border wall and the barbed wire,” said Balli. “I support law enforcement, the Border Patrol mission, and the continued collaboration and coordination between law enforcement agencies at the federal and local levels.

“The fact remains that building a border wall in water and sanitation facilities threatens our drinking water and wastewater, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in local taxpayer investment. The border wall also threatens the river’s flow of water and causes flooding concerns. The proposed border wall will also destroy several local parks along the riverbank as well as allow access to local landowners. “

Torres notes that his constituents do not have the same views on any matter, but he tries to side with the majority.

“Overall, the people of Laredo are concerned about the construction of the border wall and we must act accordingly to ensure that we are the voice of our people on this matter,” he said.

The mayor pro tempore also believes that this is fundamentally a national political problem.

“President Trump has been talking about a border wall since he was elected, and it is no coincidence that he is pushing it more than ever now that he is re-elected,” said Torres. “At the local level, however, this issue is not political, but rather worrying. The lives of people along the border are being adversely affected, not to mention agricultural and commercial property owners. For the locals, it’s about our future, not politics. “

Martinez said politics should be put aside when it comes to what the people of Laredo really want, and the only ones in the middle of the battle between the city and the federal government are the people who will be directly affected.

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“We don’t have the luxury of being political. We have to be Laredoans first, ”said Martinez. “It is possible to protect our natural resources while at the same time securing our borders. There is a middle ground here, but people must be willing to listen to one another and have an open dialogue. “

Balli argued that when it comes to the accordion wire, the federal government does not consider the people who live by the river or visit river parks.

“The recent government request for barbed wire is very worrying,” said Balli. “The proposed locations include several city parks, fishing spots and recreational areas. The government will not be providing assistance to keep local children away from the barbed wire, although they suggest placing the wire a few feet from playgrounds. We can’t have that. “

Because of this, Torres believes it is worth fighting for Laredo’s frontier area, even if it is a fight they could end up losing.

“We have invested a lot to combat this nonsense proposal from the current federal administration so that we can just lie down and step aside,” said Torres. “We must continue to fight against the building of the border wall for the future of our city.”

City council members Rudy Gonzalez, Vidal Rodriguez, Nelly Vielma and George Algelt were also asked about the mayor’s letter of opinion but made no comment on the story.


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