One Feb. 10, 2015 more than 100 community and business leaders and elected officials from the Rio Grande Valley visited Austin for RGV Day at the state Capitol.
They unveiled a legislative agenda packet at a luncheon at the Sheraton Hotel. The legislative agenda brochure focused on four areas: Border Security and Immigration, Infrastructure, Workforce Priorities, and Higher Education.
Steve Ahlenius, president & CEO of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, gave a presentation on the Border Security and Immigration agenda. Julian Alvarez, president & CEO of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership, gave a presentation on the Infrastructure agenda. Carlos Margo,executive director of the North American Advanced Manufacturing Research and Educational Initiative, gave a presentation on the Workforce Priorities agenda. Richard P. Sanchez, director of state and local governmental relations at UT-Rio Grande Valley, gave a presentation on the Higher Education agenda.
On visits to the offices of the 181 state lawmakers, the Valley leaders dropped off the legislative agenda packets. The Rio Grande Guardian is posting these four agenda items as they appear in the brochure:
1) RGV Legislative Agenda on Border Security and Immigration
Homeland Security is a top priority on the Texas-Mexico Border. It is also important to understand that stand-alone provisions will not succeed in preventing crime or illegal immigration.
Congress must approve a comprehensive immigration reform package. The legislation must include more Customs and Border Protection agents at the ports of entry and development of a viable guest worker program.
Currently, several proposed pieces of legislation by the State of Texas for securing the Texas-Mexico Border could lead to unintended consequences that would have far-reaching ramifications and costs beyond what the State of Texas is willing to assume. Border security and immigration are complex issues that need serious study and in-depth understanding beyond simple slogans and simple rhetoric.
Any legislation should ensure a system for safe, efficient and trouble-free visits forthe millions of legal international visitors who come here. These visitors are here to conduct legitimate business, visit family and to see and experience the United States. The legislation should not cause significant disruptions to Texas and the national economy.
* Support initiatives for more state investigators to be located in Cameron, Hidalgo and Starr counties;
* Invest in an additional Texas Ranger Company to be stationed in South Texas;
* Initiate and support funding proposals for southbound inspections at international bridges;
* Support expanded “permanent” stationing and training of Department of Public Safety troopers, aerial facilities and a cybercrime investigation unit;
* Provide state funding for overtime for local law enforcement;
* Fund and provide 150 additional game wardens to be stationed in South Texas;
* Oppose legislation that would require local law enforcement officers to interpret and enforce federal immigration laws – local law enforcement’s time and efforts should be focused on law enforcement;
* The National Guard deployment has not worked and has wasted valuable resources;
* Support comprehensive immigration reform, especially legislation that would meet employers’ needs and give them access to a legal workforce;
* Balance security with legitimate trade and travel because both are vital to the border economy;
* Secure the border against criminal elements and drug traffickers.
President & CEO
McAllen Chamber of Commerce
2) RGV Legislative Agenda on Infrastructure
Transportation and infrastructure are a top priority for the Rio Grande Valley for the current legislative session.