Congressman Henry Cuellar on Friday met with Mexican leaders, senators and businessmen in Mexico City to discuss the U.S.-Mexico relations and the importance of trade between the two countries.
"During his first week on the job, President Trump has caused serious concerns for U.S.-Mexico relations with the announcement of his intent to build a giant border wall and tax all U.S. imports from Mexico," Cuellar said. "The president's idea of a wall is not only extremely costly for U.S. taxpayers, but greatly inefficient at border security.
"I believe there are more effective and efficient ways to secure our borders, such as increasing the use of technology that is currently deployed by the Department of Homeland Security, which includes unmanned aerial systems, aerostats, video surveillance systems and ground sensors; along with adding improvements to river access roads and increasing the number of Border Patrol agents on the ground."
Prominent political figures in Mexico have suggested the country expel U.S. law enforcement agents, stop detaining Central American migrants or no longer inspect northbound trucks for drug shipments. Some activist groups on Friday were calling for a boycott of American brands.
Former President Felipe Calderon said Thursday that "we have to design a policy of retaliation" for Trump's proposed plans, which include making Mexico pay for the border wall he wants to build.
"We have to put U.S. security issues under review ... including the presence of (U.S.) agents" on Mexican soil, Calderon told local news media.
On Friday afternoon, Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim called for "national unity" in the face of Trump's hostility, and said the country should have a measured response "without getting angry but without surrendering."
Slim called for a "modern, not protectionist" national program of substituting imported products, the vast majority of which come from the United States.
But he stopped short of calling for a boycott of American goods.
"I think it is an error to think about boycotting companies," Slim said. "What we should do instead is buy what is produced in Mexico."
Cuellar said Trump's proposal to tax all U.S. imports from Mexico by as much as 20 percent "would actually hurt American consumers and businesses, not Mexico."
"As the representative for our country's largest inland port, I understand just how important trade is for our local economies and for our country," he said. "Mexico is the United States' second-largest export partner and third-largest import partner, according to the International Trade Administration (ITA). The total goods traded between our countries in 2015 was more than $531 billion. It's also important to point out that Texas' largest trading partner is Mexico, and much of our economies in Texas are dependent on trade.
"I witnessed in my meetings yesterday in Mexico City that Mexicans are more united than ever and ready to negotiate on policies and trade that will benefit both countries. We must remember that Mexico is one of our closest allies and friends. I am committed to doing my part in Congress to develop effective and efficient solutions that will address border security and enhance our bilateral relationship with Mexico."