Brewer, Perry Refuse to Attend U.S.-Mexico Border Governors Meeting
A conference of U.S. and Mexico border governors is underway in New Mexico, but New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is the only U.S. governor in attendance after Arizona’s Jan Brewer and Texas’ Rick Perry refused to attend. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was set to co-host the conference but, bogged down with budget issues in Sacramento, at the last minute sent his lieutenant governor instead.
All six Mexican governors, plus several governors-elect, are in attendance, The New York Times reported. The reason for the spat? Brewer’s SB 1070 immigration law, which prompted a boycott of the year’s original border governors conference, to be hosted by Brewer. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson stepped up in July to host the conference instead.
These conferences have been going on for years — this is the 28th, in fact — and have accomplished some real results, including agreements to share intelligence on trafficking and lobby federal governments for better border crossing infrastructure.
This year, though, the Arizona immigration law has caused some tension, the New York Times reported today:
Ms. Brewer’s name did not come up directly in the opening remarks, but Gov. Humberto Moreira Valdés of Mexico’s Coahuila State left no doubt about who he was speaking about when he praised Mr. Richardson and Mr. Maldonado for their friendship with Mexico and noted that not every border leader thought the same way. [...]
Andrew Selee, director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, said the border governors typically dealt with nuts and bolts issues that cross national boundaries, like improving the border economy and helping adjacent states with firefighting. At last year’s session in Monterrey, Mexico, Mr. Richardson was also the only American governor present after others dropped out at the last minute because of scheduling concerns.
“The ongoing collaboration among the 10 border states is important,” said Mr. Selee, one of the experts who was to address the elected officials. “The meeting itself rises and falls in prominence.”
The conference is also considered good for relations with Mexico, which are important as the countries work together on drug trafficking problems. U.S.-Mexico relations recently went through a slightly tense patch when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton compared the situation with drug cartels there to an insurgency, much to the chagrin of Mexican politicians.