The efforts of border women to educate policy makers and federal department officials about the deep poverty as well as economic development initiatives of border communities has resulted in a more complete discussion about border issues, which had traditionally focused on immigration, violence, and ‘security.’
Border women at La Mujer Obrera are an example of a community rebuilding itself from the damaging effects of international trade policies, economic abandonment, and the war on drugs. We believe investing in the vision of border women workers for their communities will provide meaningful future for multiple generations of border residents and, ultimately, genuine economic security. As one supporter said during a welcome gathering at Mercado Mayapan: “Educate a women, and you educate a whole family.”
As a result of the women’s efforts, an inter-agency work group has been formed and begun to assess border issues, and El Paso Congressman Silvestre Reyes elevated the level of attention for the Southwest Border Regional Commission through the letter below, which he sent to President Barack Obama this past Friday.
November 19, 2010
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
As you work toward finalizing your Fiscal Year 2012 budget, I would like to urge you to include funding for the Southwest Border Regional Commission (SWBRC).
Authorized as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, the Southwest Border Regional Commission was created to help address the community and economic development needs of the most severely distressed areas along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. This new federal-state regional Commission, which is modeled after the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), will target new resources to promote wealth generation as well as economic growth strategies and projects within the four-state region. These efforts will focus on leveraging the public, private, and philanthropic resources needed to improve and sustain the border area. The Commission would develop the necessary building blocs for economic competitiveness which include: transportation and basic infrastructure; entrepreneurial and job skills training; advanced technologies and telecommunications; and sustainable energy solutions. In FY09, the SWBRC was authorized to receive $30 million. However, to date, the SWBRC has not received funding.
In addition, I also respectfully request that you move to appoint a chair for the Commission and direct the various departments with lead roles in the SWBRC (the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Treasury, Labor, and Education) to establish an inter-agency working group. The group would visit cities like El Paso, Texas on the Southwest border, meet with stakeholders relevant to the work of the SWBRC, and identify critical needs and projects in the border region.
I appreciate your consideration of these requests and look forward to continue working with you on issues pertaining to the Southwest border.
Member of Congress