Arizona business leaders work to strengthen ties with Mexico

SCOTTSDALE – Arizona and Mexico are moving forward and forging closer ties, despite heated presidential campaign rhetoric, according to some leading business and Republican leaders in the state.

Some leaders in Arizona, known for anti-Mexican immigrant legislation, are challenging billionaire Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee frontrunner and his plan to force Mexico to pay for a larger, “beautiful” wall along the entire southwest border. To do so, he has said he would change a rule under the USA Patriot Act antiterrorism law that would cut off remittances- money sent to Mexico by immigrants through money transfers, usually to family members.

Mexico receives more than $23 billion a year in remittances.

Some Republican and business leaders in Arizona are wary of the potential repercussions and possible impact on cross-border economy.

“What it means in terms of business, is that Mexico is our number one consumer, our number one client, and at the same time it’s our number one supplier,” said David Farca, chairman of the board for the Arizona-Mexico Commission, an organization that works to promote and better the economic relationship between the two sides.

“We’re not really neighbors. We’re roommates.”

Earlier in the week, the Global Chamber hosted a Phoenix town hall with the Arizona Mexico commission to focus on how to improve economic trade between two neighbors.

An estimated $16.5 billion was traded between Arizona and Mexico in 2015, according to the commission.

“But that doesn’t even reflect what is processed through our points of entry in both countries,” Luis Ramirez Thomas, president of Ramirez Advisors Inter-National, LLC, said.

Members of the commission have expressed that Arizona needs to standup on behalf of Mexico by removing its anti-immigrant image created by laws like SB1070, said Melissa Sanderson, chair of the Arizona District Export Council.

“Effectively, the law has been defanged, but as long as the law is in the books,” Sanderson said. “It fosters a perception that Arizonans detest Mexicans and don’t want any Mexicans here. It’s easy enough to repeal a law that is no longer effective in any event, but it would send a huge message.”

The commission will participate at the Arizona Town Hall in Tucson, April 24th through the 27th in generating more support toward improving economic ties with Mexico.

Meanwhile, Senator Steve Pierce, who was one of the first to speak out against Trump’s plan, said said the proposal to cut off remittances is “ridiculous.” He added that Arizona has such close economic ties with Mexico that Trump would have to shut down the state in order to carry out the plan.