WASHINGTON—Ranking Member Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks in support of the U.S. Mexico-Economic Partnership Act, which passed the House by a voice vote.
“Mr. Speaker, this is a good bill. I thank its authors and Chairman Royce for bringing it forward, and I’ll discuss its merits in a moment.
“Because I can’t in good conscience stand on the House floor and talk about our economic partnership with Mexico and not speak for a moment on what’s happening right now on our southern border.
“The President tweeted that the migrants seeking asylum in our country are ‘stone cold criminals.’
“I’ve seen the images, and I don’t see stone cold criminals. I see children with bare feet. I see hungry mothers, toddlers in diapers, and desperate fathers. And I see tear gas being lobbed from the United States into Mexico.
“The President says not to worry. He says it’s a ‘very safe’ sort of tear gas. The American people aren’t stupid. The American people know what this country stands for. They know we are a nation of immigrants. They know that America doesn’t kick people when they’re down or slam the door on those fleeing poverty and violence. I hope the President gets the message.
“Now, the measure before us deals with the incredibly important relationship with our neighbor to the south, Mexico. Mexico is our close friend and ally… our third largest trading partner… and a country with which we share extraordinarily close cultural and person-to-person ties.
“This bill builds on the Obama Administration’s ‘100 Thousand Strong in the Americas’ Initiative by requiring the Secretary of State to expand the exchange programs that allow our students and business leaders to share and learn from each other. There is no better way to advance the future of our bilateral ties than by allowing young people and professionals to experience what makes each of our countries unique.
“It is also critical that we send a strong message to the Mexican people that the United States Congress will not walk away from them despite any damage done to our relationship over the past several years.
“As I have said many times in the Foreign Affairs Committee and on the House floor, the United States should be in the business of building bridges—not walls—to our friends in Mexico.
“The timing of this legislation could not be more ideal. Four days from now, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will be sworn in as President of Mexico.
“By passing this measure today, the House of Representatives is recommitting itself to our bilateral relationship. We are sending a loud and clear message that the prosperity of our countries’ futures depends on an enduring US-Mexico relationship.
“So, I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this legislation, and I reserve the balance of my time.”
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