FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
While the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and our members understand the need to secure our borders and ensure the safety of our communities, our members are concerned by the administrations recent decision to deploy National Guard troops along our southern border. The decision to deploy these troops once again reinforces the negative rhetoric and misconceptions about the border that border communities have been fighting against. Not only does the decision send the wrong message to the rest of the country, it also has important implications for our relationship with Mexico.
As the leading advocate for small, minority, and women owned businesses in the El Paso Metroplex, as soon as the plan to deploy troops was announced, the chamber immediately began polling our members to better understand their opinions and concerns about this issue.
Of our 1,200 plus members, over 350 members responded. Among those who responded, 51.6 percent did not agree with the decision, with 41.9 percent agreeing with the decision to deploy National Guard troops to the border.
“While this is not the first time that troops have been deployed to the border, many of our members expressed their concern over the cost effectiveness of this strategy,” stated Cindy Ramos- Davidson, CEO of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “Our members stated that they felt that the funds being used under this plan could be better allocated to providing more permanent solutions to enhancing border security through the use of technology and the hiring of additional Customs and Border Patrol officers.”
Furthermore, Hispanic Chamber members expressed concern over the impact that the image of a militarized border will have on the community, El Paso businesses, and the economy.
As a community that has been consistently fighting against the misconception that border cities are plagued by violence, sending military troops to patrol the border damages the advances that the community has made in changing people’s perception of the border.
Members of the chamber also expressed their concern that the decision only further damages an already strained relationship with Mexico at a politically critical time.
"Our members feel that as a nation we should be working to improve our relationship with such a crucial partner who is essential to our continued safety and economic growth,” said Omar Veliz, Chairman of the Board for the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Not only is this decision costly in terms of dollars spent, but also in terms of the damage that it will do to border communities, their economies, and our relationship with one of our largest trading partners. The decision to deploy National Guard troops to the border is a temporary and costly solution to an issue that requires a strategic and more permanent answer.