McAllen courts Trump visit

McALLEN — The city commission voted unanimously yesterday authorizing Mayor Jim Darling to invite President Donald Trump to McAllen.

With Mexico’s economic situation heavily impacting McAllen, the Rio Grande Valley and Texas, coupled with the national policy conversations about the border, immigration, trade and the country’s intertwining economies, Darling wants Trump to come see the people who are directly impacted.

“Right now, the peso is being devalued and having a direct effect on our communities, and NAFTA is having a direct affect on our communities.” Darling said. “I appreciated when he was campaigning, he went to Detroit, he went to Kentucky, he went to Pennsylvania, and what he said that left an impression on me was that he wanted to see the faces of the people that had been affected by these policies.”

Darling added that he was encouraged by Trump saying “this is a better America for everybody” during Friday’s inauguration and by Trump’s recent comment that he’ll “treat Mexico fairly.”

“So I would like to invite him down to see the faces of our people,” Darling said. “And the potential effect federal policy could have on us. Our area has had double-digit unemployment for a number of years — we were just able to get below double digits a few years ago. We’re still one of the poorest per capita areas in the United States and, of course, we’re all Americans.”

Darling said he hand wrote the letter but wanted to get the commission’s blessing before inviting Trump. He also wants to reach out to other local mayors to see if they want to get involved in asking Trump to visit.

The peso significantly influences the city — nearly 40 percent of the city’s sales tax revenue comes from Mexican nationals. Immigration also heavily impacts McAllen, though the federal government hasn’t helped bear those costs. The city has spent nearly a half-million dollars on immigration humanitarian aid since April 2014, but hasn’t been reimbursed by the federal government.

There is no target date for Trump’s visit. The last president to visit McAllen was Bill Clinton, and before that Dwight Eisenhower, Darling said.