Mayors remain on fence about border barrier with Mexico
LAS VEGAS (AP) – U.S. mayors waded into the immigration debate Monday but failed to unite in opposing a 305-mile fence along the Rio Grande river in Texas on the border with Mexico.
Mayors from more than 200 cities meeting in Las Vegas unanimously supported a call urging President Bush and Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform including a guest worker program.
But they declined to back a resolution opposing a fence the authors said would make the United States a “laughing stock” and “do great harm” to relations between Americans and Mexicans.
Sam LaGrone, mayor of Roswell, N.M., opposed the measure saying more needs to be done to stop the inflow of drugs such as methamphetamine.
“The amount of meth that is coming across our borders is absolutely ruining so many families in our border states,” LaGrone said. “This is an issue that definitely in my opinion should be left to the border patrol.”
Virginia Beach, Va., Mayor Meyera Oberndorf said raising a fence, from 15 miles northwest of Laredo, Texas to Brownsville, Texas would be “un-American.”
“We’ve always had open borders between Mexico and Canada and we think that’s just where it ought to stay,” Oberndorf said.
The resolution opposing the fence was submitted by Laredo Mayor Elizabeth Flores, Miami Mayor Manuel Diaz and Albuquerque, N.M., Mayor Martin Chavez.
It asked that the U.S. Conference of Mayors call on the U.S. Senate to “ask itself if the expense and symbolism of such a proposed fence can possibly be worth the misunderstandings it will create between the United States and Mexico.”
Several border state city mayors spoke against the motion before the body decided to refer it back to a committee.