Rio Grande leaders skeptical of border wall benefits

A worker installs barbed-wire on top of a fence at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection temporary holding facility near the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Donna, Texas. The tent facility will primarily be used as a temporary holding site for children and families who have entered the county illegally. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
A worker installs barbed-wire on top of a fence at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection temporary holding facility near the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Donna, Texas. The tent facility will primarily be used as a temporary holding site for children and families who have entered the county illegally. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

McALLEN, Texas (KXAN) — Business leaders fear a border wall would lead the Trump administration to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement, which bans high tariffs from country to country.

Much of the Texas-Mexico border is a steel fence with a 20-foot drop down to Mexico on the other side, but if America is going to wall this country off, business leaders in South Texas have major concerns. The plan for Mexico to pay for the border wall would be a tax on products built in Mexico that are then shipped into America.

America buys almost $60 billion worth of goods more than what we sell to Mexico, but manufacturers, realtors and tourism titans say that country to country trade is all upside for the border communities. Members of the Lower Rio Grande Development Council told Congressmen Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, and Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, just the threat of a border wall and a tax on imports to pay for it has caused a downturn in the Valley.

“The rhetoric that we’ve been hearing out of Washington has created that type of uncertainty in investors and folks in Mexico who do business here on this side of the border. So it’s concerning,” said Rep. Gonzalez.

The two Democrats were hopeful after hearing earlier this week that many on the other side of the aisle are sensitive to the business argument and skeptical of large measures that would shake up trade.

“Maybe for different reasons [some lawmakers] don’t think the wall is a good idea either. I am confident that we are not going to see that big beautiful wall that the president promised, ever built,” said Rep. Vela.

One-third of everything Mexico exports comes through Texas. The nation will soon see if that’s big enough to give pause to any oncoming wall.

President Donald Trump ensures the wall is the best way to keep out criminals trying to cross over from Mexico. He issued executive orders to find money to begin construction.

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