As the nation’s lawmakers debate immigration reform in Washington D.C., mayors from Arizona and Sonora are talking about what what is and isn't working regarding issues of border security, economics, and culture.
At the Arizona-Sonora Border Mayors conference in Naco, Ariz., Adriana Badal, Bisbee’s mayor, said she wants to keep an open dialogue between communities on both sides of the border to increase tourism and business. But, the main problem for these border towns, she said, is misconception.
“A lot of folks who don’t know this region...hear there is need for border security and think it’s not secure,” Badal said. “They don’t want to come visit, they don’t move here and that’s a concern for us because in our opinion it’s a very safe region.”
Immigration reform proposals call for an increase in U.S. Border Patrol troops, and more money for border security, but Badal said there is no need for that.
“What we need is money,” she said. Particularly funding for infrastructure near the international ports of entry.
Border mayors want to form a tourism cluster that includes Cananea and Naco on the Mexican side and Bisbee and Tombstone on the U.S. side.
“We are building a four-lane highway from Cananea to Agua Prieta,” said Francisco Javier Tarazon Curlango, mayor of Cananea in Sonora, Mexico. “That will be the easiest way to access Cananea from Arizona.”
The Mexican government’s interest in funding infrastructure near the border will benefit binational commuters, he said.
The Arizona Sonora Border Mayors Coalition meets regularly in cities on both sides of the international border.