Amid protests, Sen. Cornyn talks border wall at State of Congress address
City officials and business leaders gathered Friday at a Weslaco luncheon to hear Republican U.S. Senator, John Cornyn, deliver a State of Congress address.
Before addressing issues that affect the region, Cornyn first dived into trade, specifically, his stance on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Cornyn said he agrees with President Trump that the trade agreement should be re-negotiated as many things have changed, including the advancement of technology. The senator said he told Trump personally that NAFTA should not be “scrapped,” but modernized. In addition, Cornyn addressed that there are a number of people in the U.S. with jobs dependent on the international trade.
"Five million jobs in the U.S. alone depend on bi-national trade with Mexico,” said Cornyn. “Another 8 million jobs depend on our bi-national trade with Canada.”
As of today, Cornyn said more than 380,000 Texas jobs hinge on trade with Mexico. While negotiation with Mexico and Canada continue, Cornyn advised that Trump and the U.S. Trade Representative, “do no harm.”
Next, Cornyn addressed the border wall— a topic that brought out many of the day’s protesters.
"He said that he's for the border wall, but we don't hear him doing anything, so we want to see actions,” said Martha Sanchez, coordinator for La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE). “We wanted him to fight against the border wall, against money for the border wall."
While Trump has asked congress for $18 billion to fund the project, Cornyn sees the investment going toward border security and introduced the bill called the Building America’s Trust Act, which would provide additional resources.
"It's not accurate to say all we need is a physical barrier, we need much more than that and we need the flexibility to get the professionals whatever they need to do the job,” said Cornyn.
Cornyn also thinks that a wall is not needed on mountains or rivers, but he would like to see other improvements along the border.
"We now have outdated ports of entry, aging infrastructure, inadequate staffing--which is necessary to see the flow of legitimate trade and traffic across our international borders," said Cornyn.
Martha Sánchez from LUPE said that Cornyn has been too passive on immigration reform.
“With this president, you have to be strong," Sánchez said. "You have to call it for what it is – racism.”