“I hope something will happen soon that he [President Donald Trump] sees the light and that he recognizes we have a sufficient wall, if there’s even a need for one, we got it and it is right behind me” said Democrat State Representative Rene Oliviera standing feet away from a border fence in Brownsville, Texas.
Only a few hundred yards away across the Rio Grande River is the northern border town of Matamoros, Tamaulipas.
Rene O. Oliveira has been has been representing Texas District 37 for more than 3 decades.
Oliveira has struggled with a state that he says does not understand border communities.
In the mid-2000’s Oliveria fought for border fence construction during President Bush’s term.
With current President Trump’s call for another wall looming, chances are it will be built in Oliveria’s district.
“They [Mexico] are our allies and we’re treating them like enemies and it’s going to hurt us”
Oliveira believes Trump’s multi-billion dollar wall is a big problem, symbolically and fiscally irresponsible.
“It is a 14th century solution to a 21st century problem…. you’re going to have a lot of problems with Mexico, we’re already seeing it. Mexico is our biggest trading partner. If they catch a cold we sneeze.”
While Oliveira does agree with Republican representatives on making progress toward a secure border he calls the wall a “political football.”
Also a problem for his district, a negative stigma reinforced by Republican representatives that have never visited the border or rarely visited.
“It is disappointing because there is prejudice. There is some hysteria. There is just a lot of fiction about what really goes on in our communities… Don’t go so far overboard based on fiction to create problems for us as we’re trying to make the valley great. We want to be part of Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again.’ We don’t want to be in the shadows of that.”
One week into President Trump’s term, state representatives, Republican and Democrats toured the Rio Grande Valley alongside Oliveira. He hopes the visit will serve as an eye opener for Republican and Democrat critics.
If Trump’s wall is built, Oliveira foresees communities rising up to challenge President Trump in court.
“For someone to be at the lowest approval rating ever buy an income and presidents he ought to be concerned there are people who are starting to wake up … You may have won this one but you’re not going to keep winning long if you keep people out of the process and don’t make them part of the solution.”