In sweltering heat, U.S. Rep. Will Hurd and the mayors of the border towns of Del Rio and Ciudad Acuña held hands — presumably sweaty ones — with residents from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border on Saturday. It was a gesture they hoped would represent the unity and interdependency between their cities.
About 150 people joined Hurd and the mayors in a “bilingual, binational, bipartisan” rally at the International Bridge, which connects both towns, in an event during which the Helotes Republican reaffirmed his position against President Donald Trump’s border wall.
Hurd said his time as a CIA officer taught him that "building a wall from sea to shining sea" is not going to secure communities. Rather, he said, working together “against your common threat" will make Mexico and the U.S. safer.
“As the member of Congress who has the most border … this is a message I take to Washington,” he said. “I've been trying to bring my colleagues down to the border as well. A lot of folks who talk about the border have never seen the border.”
The border rally was billed as a "demonstration of unity" between both countries. Mayors Hector Arocha from Ciudad Acuña and Robert Garza from Del Río encouraged crowds on both sides of the border to remain supportive and understanding of each other.
An hour into the rally, most of the attendees walked part of the bridge and held hands, forming a human chain as mariachis played in the background.
While the human chain formed, crowd members joked about how this is the kind of barrier they want on the U.S.-Mexico border, instead of Trump's proposed wall. After a few pictures, residents from both sides of the border shared paletas and drinks with the Rio Grande River and some U.S. Border Patrol pickup trucks in the background.
During his speech, Hurd said, in Spanish, that a lot of people who talk about the border don't recognize or don't realize that Ciudad Acuña and Del Río aren’t just two cities, but “a community.” He thanked U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, for being at the rally. Citing his famous road trip to Washington, D.C., with El Paso Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke earlier this month, Hurd said bipartisanship isn’t a “dirty word.”
"People are expecting us to focus on what unites us, not what divides us," said Hurd, who returned to Texas this weekend after U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the American Health Care Act — the supposed GOP replacement from Obamacare — from consideration on Friday when there weren't enough votes to pass it. "We can disagree without being disagreeable."
Castro also emphasized the important relationship between Ciudad Acuña and Del Río. Trump’s criticisms of Mexican immigrants, he said, only hurt the relationship between both countries.
“This is a place that makes a big difference to our country and we have to make sure that people understand that the prosperity of our nations depends on the success of each other,” he said.
Garza, the Del Rio mayor, said the International Bridge brings $7 million annually in revenue for his city, mostly due to the trade partnership between Ciudad Acuña.
“It is my hope and desire that all of our efforts be focused on building bridges and not walls," Garza said.
- As the Trump Administration moves ahead with its plans for a barrier just north of the Rio Grande, Texans are weighing in on how the president should approach the project. And the ideas range from the comical to the practical.
- U.S. Reps. Will Hurd and Beto O'Rourke — a Republican and a Democrat from Texas, respectively — arrived at the U.S. Capitol after a two-day trek from San Antonio that drew thousands of fans.