MCALLEN, Texas -- Negative talk about the border, from a wall to the “show me your papers” law, is driving away business and hurting the Texas economy.
But at least one border city is launching a new “friendly” campaign hoping to make Mexican tourists feel welcome.
“Amigos Always – Bienvenidos” is a welcoming sign of friendship for those that visit the border town of McAllen, Texas. These new banners are part of a campaign aimed at visitors from south of the border.
“It’s a way to say, ‘Yeah, we’re still here, we’re still friends… come on back,’” Mcallen Mayor Jim Darling said.
Mayor Darling noted that President Trump’s repeated comments about how he will have Mexico pay for the border wall and recent Texas legislation banning sanctuary cities is pushing people away.
“There’s still resentment about who’s going to build the fence and the wall and the way it was handled in the United States, and so we decided, ‘Hey, we’re friends, we’re amigos forever,” Mayor Darling said.
According to Darling, Mexican tourism accounts for 30 to 35 percent of the total sales tax collected by the city. That’s why he felt compelled to take proactive steps to advertise and attract Mexican tourists.
“We’re down this year about $3 million,” he said.
Rolando Ramirez, who lives in Mexico, said that he doesn’t cross into Texas as often anymore. He explained that he’s always fearful and on alert, warning others to be careful when coming to the U.S. because of President Trump’s recent immigration actions.
But for local resident Roberto Escudero the “friendly” efforts are a good sign moving forward.
“I think, at the end, it’s not the place where you live, it’s the attitude that you have that changes the place,” Escudero said.
The campaign will run through the summer in hopes of attracting more Mexican visitors in time for the fall and winter shopping season.