Pima County declared “immigrant welcoming” community
Feb 11, 2014
Acknowledging the cultural and economic strength of immigrants and refugees, the Pima County Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution declaring Pima County an “immigrant welcoming county.”
The non-binding resolution states that Mexico is the United States’ third-largest trading partner and second-largest market for U.S. exports and notes that Pima County has the longest shared border with Mexico than any other county in the nation.
Pima County Supervisor Richard Elías said while Pima County has always been a welcoming community to immigrants, that relationship has to be cultivated and cannot be taken for granted.
“Immigrants and refugees are a vital part of our economy,” Elías said, adding they make contributions every day that make a difference in the community.
Supervisor Ally Miller, noting she comes from a family of Irish immigrants, said infrastructure needs to be developed to readily move goods and people across the border so the region becomes the inland port of choice for Mexican trade.
“We all know Mexico is quickly growing as an economic power and if we don’t become more business friendly and ensure trade is coming our way, we will end up losing in the end.”
The unanimous vote was greeted with applause from the audience members, many of whom were from faith and neighborhood organizations.
Felipe Garcia, the executive vice president of Visit Tucson who is in charge of Mexico marketing, applauded the move, saying he hopes the resolution can begin to undo some of the damage done to the relationship with Mexico stemming from the impacts of SB 1070. It is an important nod to the thousands of Mexican visitors who cross with their documents every day from Nogales, he said, some of whom end up shopping locally and paying sales tax, and some of whom are looking to invest in businesses here.
“I don’t think this immigration resolution is an offer of amnesty or green cards for everyone,” Garcia said. “It is a statement. And it is a statement that we welcome people from other countries to come here and conduct business.”