Column: Tucson Mayor dabbles in foreign affairs

Steve Nguyen | The Daily Wildcat

The Mayor of Tucson Jonathan Rothschild talks about a new poverty collaboration during a Q&A with the Daily Wildcat at his office in City Hall in 2014. In an effort to improve cross-border relations, the mayor recently invited top officials from the Mexican government to visit Tucson.

Arizona, as a whole, seems to support the Republican party, but Tucson Councilwoman Regina Romero has decided to make a statement to México. “It is important to distinguish ourselves from the rest of the state and the Republican Congress,” she said. 

 Our very own Mayor and adjunct assistant professor at the James E. Rogers college of Law, Jonathan Rothschild, reached out and said, “The door to our city is open.” He invited Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to speak with Local and State Officials. Rothschild wrote an official letter to the Mexican President, demonstrating the differences of Tucson to the rest of the state. “We are deeply troubled by the tone and content of the recent Executive Orders,” said Rothschild in the official letter to the Mexican President.

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Rothschild pointed out that Tucson possessed SB 1070, the bill where suspected illegal immigrants can be stopped and required to show their papers. Mayor Rothschild also pointed out when the bill was passed in 2010, Tucson was important in over turning the bill.


“We have touted our city’s friendly relationship with Mexico as a selling point for businesses that may wish to locate here and we welcome Mexican visitors. Building a wall or increasing tariffs sends the wrong message about the importance of the relationship between our two countries, which is based on, among other things, mutual cooperation and respect,” said Rothschild to Peña Nieto in the official letter on this issue. Many Mexican citizens visit Tucson each year for tourism and many citizens in Sonora and Sinaloa drive here to buy goods from the United States. The new President’s tariffs could destabilize this mutually beneficial relationship. 

“In this state, we’re often alone, but always a leader in terms of recognizing the importance of our relationship with Mexico. Culturally and economically, there’s nothing good that can come from building walls. I’d have hoped an invitation like this would have come from the governor’s office, but good for Jonathan for taking the lead,” said Councilman Steve Kozachik. 

The Tucson culture is deeply rooted in Mexican culture: Not only is the city 36.1% Mexican by descent and 41.6% hispanic, but city events like the upcoming Fiesta de los Vaqueros have deep Mexican roots.

“Unless Mexico will treat the US fairly, with respect, such a meeting is fruitless and I want to go a different route,” Donald Trunp said after Enrique Peña Nieto cancelled their Thursday meeting. Peña Nieto went as far as to say, “Mexico offers its friendship to the people of the United States and expresses its wish to arrive at agreements with its government, deals that will be in favor of Mexico and the Mexicans.” This shows Peña Nieto’s strong stance on not paying for Trump’s wall and the response stirs national pride for Mexicans and Chicanos alike.  

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“I think this invitation -- people in Mexico are going to be happy and surprised, and let’s hope so.  We never know. I meant it’s very possible the president says, ‘yes,’  and we have an opportunity to sit down and have a dialogue here,” said Felipe Garcia, vice president of Visit Tucson, about the letter Rothschild sent to Peña Nieto. The possibility of Peña Nieto accepting this invitation may send a strong message to the Trump administration and may prove to be a strong political move for México. The dismissal of the GOP controlled Federal government and the acceptance of a local and liberal government may be the move that sends a strong enough message to Trump to change his tone.

As a Mexican-American, I want what’s best for both countries and for a healthy relationship between the two of them. I hope the invitation Rothschild has sent to Peña Nieto can set an example to other local governments and is the first step to reaching a compromise. A wall between us won’t benefit either side.

Follow Chuck Valadez on Twitter.

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