HIDALGO, Texas -- A week after the roll-out of several executive orders on immigration, the Trump administration is hitting the ground running with the newly appointed Secretary of Homeland Security visiting the southern border with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
What they heard Wednesday included reaction from some officials who fear that new, stricter policies could harm relations with Mexico.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly was welcomed by Abbott to a tour of the Texas-Mexico border.
It was Kelly's first visit to the border since being tapped to lead one of the largest government agencies in the country.
Law enforcement officials from every level met with Secretary Kelly for a chance to talk about what they need out on the front lines.
"There’s a lot of people, particularly in Washington, that have opinions about this border,” Kelly said. “The only opinion, in my view, that counts right now, are the people that work this border."
Kelly said that he's learned a lot about the flow of drug and human trafficking while leading the Southern Command.
However, there’s one particular concern some Texas officials shared when it comes to how President Trump’s policies on immigration are being received:
"We want to achieve safety and security, but we also want to promote economic development,” Gov. Abbott said. “As you know, Mexico is our largest trading partner. We need to ensure that we continue that very effective trade."
That’s especially true for border cities as the effects of what happens in Mexico ripples through these small Texas border towns.
McAllen Mayor Jim Darling put it more bluntly:
"I’m the mayor of ground zero," he said.
Apart from the continued influx of Central American families flooding the border, Darling's concerns stem from recent social backlash in Mexico pushing to boycott travel and business in his city because of the President’s recent executive order on the border wall, with Trump saying he is considering a 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico.
"Like Americans, Mexicans have pride," Mayor Darling said. “And when you negotiate, there’s no reason to hurt people’s pride."
Hours after the talks, Mayor Darling said that he felt encouraged that America’s new head of DHS will take the message from the border back to Washington.
"He’s two things: He’s a general and so he knows how to rally the troops. He knows how to pay attention and do those things, but he’s also a general who follows orders. So hopefully there’s a blend there that comes out to a positive thing for the valley," Mayor Darling said.
Secretary Kelly said that he will be coming down to the southern border often to oversee the construction of the border wall and implement the necessary measures to secure the border.
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