Trump’s Laredo Visit Should Be a Living Lesson

by Senator Judith Zaffirini

“I may never see you again,” Donald Trump worried Wednesday on Fox News about his trip to Laredo today.

While many might be happy never to see Trump again, no one wishes him ill, and no one I know considers him threatened physically in any way. Does anyone really believe that he would come to the border if he thought his safety was the slightest bit jeopardized? His statement is a ridiculous and insulting attempt to appear brave — unnecessarily.

The divisive billionaire may be familiar with the border between New York and New Jersey, but these and other outrageous comments he’s made — in addition to being horribly offensive — demonstrate his alarming lack of knowledge about the issues facing the Texas-Mexico border region today.

His visit to Laredo should be a living lesson not only about our real border security challenges, but also about the important relationships between the United States and Mexico. If he opens his mind to the truth and to reality, then his trip should be the equivalent of taking a course in binational trade, relations and friendship.

The reality of our southern border is far different from the one Trump has painted on the campaign trail, and I hope his visit today will help him correct his misperceptions and eliminate his irrational fears.

Most important, Texans hope he takes the opportunity to learn and listen. This may be a new approach for him. As we like to say in Laredo, Hablando se entiende la gente. Through communication we understand one another.

The people of Laredo are too welcoming and friendly to become a chapter in Trump’s efforts to divide. It’s time to show him our South Texas hospitality and our brand of entrepreneurial spirit that continue to make our city great.

If Trump is willing to listen, he’ll learn that Laredo is a dynamic, thriving community where we cherish our cultural and economic ties with our sister city and sister country to the south. Our city’s low unemployment rate, excellent business climate and status as the No. 1 inland port are a testament to the strong economic partnership between Mexico and its largest trading partner, the U.S.

Texas has dedicated significant resources to border security, and Trump will find hard-working law enforcement officers who work diligently to keep our community, state and nation safe. He should listen to them and learn about the challenges they face.

Contrary to Trump’s vitriolic rhetoric, the border is not a dangerous war zone. Laredo and El Paso have been ranked among the safest cities in the country, and most border communities’ crime rates are equal to or lower than the state and national averages. It’s critical that we neither exaggerate nor underplay the seriousness of border crime, especially because these communities are tired of being used as piñatas in national political campaigns.

Border security is a multifaceted issue, which is why I hope Trump will take the opportunity to learn about cross-border truck traffic and Texas’ infrastructure needs.

What’s more, recent energy reforms in Mexico are opening new avenues for collaboration with businesses in the U.S., and Laredo is uniquely positioned to become an increasingly important center for the energy industry. This is particularly true because the Eagle Ford Shale, which has been an economic blessing in our region, extends into Mexico.

Our community also prioritizes conservation and wise stewardship of natural resources, especially because hunting and nature tourism are pumping money into our local economy.

Trump loves to talk about his money, and I hope he’ll spend some of it while he’s in town. He clearly has cash to burn, and anyone will tell you that Laredo’s booming economy offers a far better return on investment than a doomed presidential campaign.

Trump could visit the local chamber of commerce to learn about business opportunities, attend a Laredo Lemurs baseball game, hit the links at one of our fabulous golf courses or enjoy our city’s many wonderful opportunities for dining and shopping. He might even be able to get a good deal on a Donald Trump piñata.

If Trump looks closely, he’ll find a city and state where people believe education and hard work are the pathways to a better quality of life. First-generation college students wait in long lines every day at our city’s international bridges to join their American classmates at Texas A&M International University, Laredo Community College and the University of Texas Health Science Center Regional Campus.

Finally, Trump should understand that Laredo’s American patriotism is second to none, which is why we celebrate it each year with the month-long George Washington’s Birthday Celebration, which also pays tribute to our city’s bicultural, bilingual and binational character.

Above all, I hope that during his visit, Trump will learn something about the value of international collaboration, cooperation, friendship and understanding.

If he doesn’t, he will have flunked the course.

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI, D-Laredo, represents District 21 in the Texas Senate.

SENATOR JUDITH ZAFFIRINI, D-Laredo, represents District 21 in the Texas Senate.

Senator Zaffirini Named Communicator of Achievement by Press Women of Texas

(AUSTIN) —Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, was honored as the Press Women of Texas’ (PWT) 2015 Communicator of Achievement at the organization’s annual conference held June 12 in Fredericksburg.

The highest honor PWT bestows on its members, the award recognizes a member with a lifetime of achievement in communications and service to the community.

“I am grateful to PWT for this award, especially because I believe effective communication with my constituents is an essential part of my duty as state senator,” Senator Zaffirini said. “What’s more, I share PWT’s longstanding commitments to freedom of the press, education and public service.”

A member of PWT since 1974, Senator Zaffirini also was recognized with the Ann Faragher Sweepstakes Award for the most points accumulated in the organization’s 2015 communications contest.

Her 27 winning entries in the 2015 PWT contest included seven First Place award-winners that went on to win awards at the national level, including her annual newsletter to constituents, Senator Judith Zaffirini Reports to the Families of Senate District 21, and her convocation speech to the employees of Laredo ISD.

Founded in Dallas in 1893 as the Texas Women’s Press Association, Press Women of Texas now includes women and men from all branches of the media. The venerable organization champions First Amendment rights, promotes awareness of professional standards in journalism and communications and provides valuable resources for persons working in the communications arena.

In addition to the communications contest for its members, PWT sponsors a writing contest for high school students and provides two scholarships annually to college students.

A distinguished communicator, educator and leader, Senator Zaffirini holds B.S., M.A. and PhD degrees from UT-Austin, each with a 3.9 grade-point average. Through her business, Zaffirini Communications, she provides professional communication services, including consulting, workshops and seminars, one-on-one coaching, keynote addresses and writing.

A DISTINGUISHED COMMUNICATOR, educator and leader, Senator Judith Zaffirini accepts the Communicator of Achievement Award from Angela Smith, President of the Press Women of Texas.

A DISTINGUISHED COMMUNICATOR, educator and leader, Senator Judith Zaffirini accepts the Communicator of Achievement Award from Angela Smith, President of the Press Women of Texas.