LatinaLista -- In a testy exchange between TX Democrat State Rep. Rene Oliveira of Brownsville and Judge Mary Horn, a Republican from North Texas over a new report detailing how much undocumented immigrants cost the state of Texas:
Horn said undocumented immigrants have driven up healthcare and prison costs in her county.
When Oliveira asked Horn to consider the additional costs that an Arizona-type law may place on counties, she agreed and responded: "It would fill up our jail, and really the only solution is to close the border."
Oliveira retorted, "Well that's your suggestion. That could also destroy the Texas economy in other ways."
Oliveira is right.
Though states and local counties pay a high price tag for the care, incarceration and education of undocumented immigrants, which this current report detailed without providing data on how much undocumented immigrants actually contribute to the state's overall economy, closing the border with Mexico would be not only disastrous for Texas but all the border states.
The idea that a woman as educated and in a position of authority as Judge Horn would not understand the true ramifications of her flippant remark reflects the general ignorance that exists among some people of just how closely tied Mexico really is with the United States.
People who live along the Mexico-U.S. border have long had a special relationship with their counterparts across the border. At one time, before 9/11, the border between the two countries seemed seamless as residents from both sides routinely crossed the bridges to shop, visit doctors or sightsee in each other's towns.
But closing the Mexican border would not only impact the border region but impact Mexico to the degree that it could cripple its economy and future. In turn, impact the U.S. like never seen before.
Economists call the Mexican economy a "satellite economy" of the United States. Because of the rise in U.S. jobless claims, Mexico's currency, the peso, dropped the most in a week's time. It was the largest decline since August 11.
It's no wonder that Mexico relies so much on the United States -- the U.S. buys 80 percent of Mexico's exports.
But it's not just our economies that are tied together. Also, each nation's future.
U.S. demographers have already pointed out that if it were not for Latino immigrants who are younger and more apt to start families, the U.S. workforce, which is aging, would be in a very bad position several years down the road.
There would be no one filling the vacancies left by retiring Baby Boomers.
On the flipside, because of our high caliber colleges and universities, Mexican students have long come here for their college education and then returned to Mexico. Now, innovative programs are being implemented with an eye on these students returning to Mexico to help their country advance into the 21st Century.
Twenty students from Mexico have set their aerospace careers for takeoff today.
New Mexico State University is bringing the group into a world of aviation and space travel as it shapes the first generation of Mexican aerospace engineers.
The students will become part of NMSU's aerospace program. They come from the Autonomous University of Chihuahua, where they took their first six semesters in engineering. Now they are ready to complete the last three semesters in aerospace engineering and graduate with bachelor's degrees from both universities.
Scholars in Mexico hope these students then will return to their native country to jump-start an emerging business sector.
A closed border would make such a student arrangement tied down with too much bureaucratic red tape, if it was even allowed.
A closed border wouldn't solve anything -- as doesn't an enforcement-only approach to illegal immigration.
It's time politicians learned just how entwined Mexico and the United States are and what is good for one country is usually good for both.