About Texas Border Coalition
The Texas Border Coalition is the collective voice of border communities on issues that affect Texas-Mexico border region quality of life. TBC is comprised of mayors and city council members, county judges and other county executives, and business and community leaders. We represent more than 2.8 million people in dozens of Texas border communities from Brownsville to El Paso.
For decades, Texas has not made a strategic investment in border communities that we have seen in other parts of the state. Failing to provide for the border region increases costs to the state, affecting family incomes across Texas.
Texas must invest in and create an economic engine in the border region that will allow this part of the state to grow and prosper.
TBC 2023 Policy Priorities
a. Educate lawmakers and regulators on the economic importance of US-Mexico trade and the economic contributions of immigrants to the Texas economy.
b. Support increased investments in border region infrastructure to grow trade at LPOE’s including transportation (roads, bridges & toll roads), warehousing, cold storage, etc.
c. Support the export sales tax program, sometimes called manifiestos, for tourism shopping that enhances economic activity in border communities and statewide.
d. Expand partnerships with regional border economic development groups (Rio Grande Valley Partnership, Laredo Economic Development Corporation, other border EDC’s and chambers).
e. Support full appropriation from previously dedicated hotel-motel tax revenue for marketing Texas as an international tourist destination.
f. Support increased business opportunities under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) including ally-shoring and near-shoring that facilitate economic connections for border communities.
g. Support programs and incentives for new investments to attract, retain and expand businesses in the border region, including the U.S. State Department’s Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity.
h. Support new state programs to replace Chapter 313 as a tool for local economic development.
The border lags behind the rest of Texas in educational attainment. 20 percent of all border residents (age 25 or older) have fewer than nine years of schooling. Only 11 percent have a bachelor’s degree and 6 percent have a post-graduate degree. Meanwhile, a fast growing unskilled labor force, coupled with limited job opportunities, creates high unemployment and lower wages.
The opportunity for Texas to thrive by strengthening the economy of the border is limitless. First, our workforce must be educated, skilled and able to carry the Texas economy forward.
TBC 2023 Policy Priorities
a. Support recent reforms of Texas public education, and ensure adequate and equitable funding for students in all Texas school districts.
b. Support increased investment in higher education, especially programs that support connections with business and career readiness.
c. Support increased investment in programs to promote students’ workforce readiness, including dual credit, workforce and apprenticeship programs.
d. Support funding and accreditation for workforce
e. education in community colleges
f. Support the continuation of in-state university tuition for undocumented students.
g. Increase job training opportunities and occupational programs that improve independence for persons with disabilities.h. In coordination with TBC’s health care priorities, support the development of a skilled workforce for all areas of healthcare and telemedicine, including streamlined admission and licensing for doctors and nurses trained in Mexico.
Border residents face numerous health-related challenges – many of which are exacerbated by the region’s lack of health care facilities and infrastructure.
To ensure a brighter future for border citizens, we must improve access to health care.
TBC 2023 Policy Priorities
a. Support funding to combat the global coronavirus pandemic and other emerging public health threats, including public health programs and services through the Centers for Disease Control and other agencies including vaccine education.
b. Support programs for opioid treatment and detox for the border region.
c. Support access to healthy food, nutrition and physical fitness education for border communities, and fully fund programs such as Healthy South Texas, Healthy Living/Viviendo Mejor and others that provide evidence-based chronic disease prevention and management for asthma, cancer, obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases in the border region.
d. Provide input and support for the Border Health Task Force.
e. Support enhanced programming for behavioral health and substance abuse treatment/prevention, especially youth mental health services and training.
f. Support alternate indigent care services, ie. hospital districts in the border region.
g. In coordination with TBC’s education priorities, support the development of a skilled workforce for all areas of healthcare and telemedicine, including streamlined admission and licensing for doctors and nurses trained in Mexico.
U.S. immigration policies ignore the important role immigrants play in the state and national economies and jeopardize prosperity and global competitiveness along the Texas-Mexico border.
We must adopt fair and effective immigration policies that strengthens the border and recognizes the economic contributions immigrants make to the U.S. and Texas economies.
TBC 2023 Policy Priorities
a. TBC supports an incremental, bipartisan approach to immigration reform that provides legal avenues for agricultural, healthcare and other workers to enter the United States when needed; provides legal status for undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children, known as Dreamers; recaptures unissued Green Cards and allows them to be reallocated for current use; and fully funds the Emergency Food and Shelter program operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to assure that local governments and non-governmental organizations can carry on programs to address the needs of migrants entering the U.S. We hope these incremental steps will lay the foundation for needed, more comprehensive reforms.
b. Increase investments in technology, infrastructure and staffing to facilitate the efficiency of legitimate trade and travel at land border crossings (Land Ports of Entry or LPOE’s) rather than erecting a costly and ineffective border wall between border crossings.
Examples of effective methods for improving border security include: redesigned towers like those used in Arizona, 24-hour boat patrols on the Rio Grande, controlling Carrizo cane along the Rio Grande, and use of the Tethered Aerostat Radar System, or TARS.
c. Support constructive dialogue between security officials and border communities prior to determining appropriate border security techniques.
d. Support increased coordination between local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies along the border, including interoperable communications equipment and personnel, and the FirstNet communication system for first responders.
e. Increase meaningful oversight and accountability within agencies for border management, refugee, and immigration programs, including a meaningful return on investment (ROI) on investment of state funds in border operations.
f. Create effective southbound border checkpoints to stem the flow of illegal cash and firearms into Mexico; upgrade roads, technology and infrastructure surrounding the LPOE’s to facilitate effective southbound checks; track license plates without interfering with the flow of legitimate traffic.
The region’s ports of entry and transportation infrastructure are being strained by increasing international trade, growth of the Maquiladora industry, a rising population and expansion of commercial and commuter traffic.
If the border region is to realize its economic potential, our roads, bridges and freight lines demand increased attention.
TBC 2023 Policy Priorities
a. Support development of a long-term water plan to provide the border region a dependable, sustainable water supply to meet its growing economy and population.
b. Increase investments in highway and rail transportation infrastructure to connect LPOE’s and maritime ports with existing freight arteries.
c. Increase investment in the Coordinated Border Infrastructure (CBI) program and ensure CBI funding comes to the border region.
d. Give state and local governments more flexibility to invest in border highway, rail and maritime port infrastructure affected by international commercial traffic.
e. Support Public-Private Partnerships (P3’s) to increase investment in infrastructure to facilitate effective international trade routes.
f. Engage with USDOT, TxDOT, regional transportation authorities and the Secretary of State’s Border Trade Advisory Committee on behalf of border transportation projects.
g. Facilitate trusted carrier programs like the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) for cross-border freight shipments; create efficiencies for northbound cargo at LPOE’s and maritime ports.
h. Support broadband infrastructure expansion in the border region through public-private partnerships that leverage private sector expertise and investment with federal and state programs.
i. Identify long-term funding solutions for broadband infrastructure in the State of Texas.
j. Support continuation of the Donation Acceptance Program.
Recent TBC Successes
Speaking as one voice for border communities in the 88th Texas Legislature, the Texas Border Coalition (TBC) achieved great success on its priorities including education, broadband, water resources and healthcare. TBC drove success for border communities by advocating for stable, policy-based solutions, testifying and indicating support or opposition to dozens of bills over the session and conducting over 50 meetings with lawmakers, committee leaders and staff. TBC focused on the priorities identified by border leaders before the legislative session, and supported legislators of both parties to pass laws that benefit Texans for years to come. TBC legislative accomplishments include:
Broadband internet: $1.5 billion for the proposed dedicated Texas Broadband Infrastructure Fund, pending voter approval. The fund will be critical to the drawdown of dollars from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) broadband expansion program. Broadband accessibility is a key factor to escaping poverty.
Water: Over $2 billon to improve water infrastructure and improvement of flood and drainage projects, including $1 billion for the proposed Texas Water Fund, pending voter approval, and $625 million for flood and drainage infrastructure. In addition, $550 million was set aside for coastal barrier projects. The package also includes $125 million to match IIJA federal funding for water infrastructure projects.
Community colleges: $691 million in additional formula funding, grants for workforce needs, and additional financial aid to help implement community college finance reform.
Other accomplishments include:
- A 16.2 percent increase in funding for Health and Human Services programs.
- A 2.9 percent increase in funding for the Border Health Operations program.
- Increased TxDOT funding for projects near land ports of entry.
- New funding for the construction of health care facilities in Starr County.
- Funding for a study of water/sewer disparities in colonias along the border.
- Funding for the Starr County Upper-Level Center, UT Rio Grande Valley.
- $250 million to conduct a needs assessment, financial plan, and feasibility study for the establishment and operation of a law school at the University of Texas-El Paso.
TBC’s success in the 88th Texas Legislature comes after a remarkably successful effort in the 116th Congress, including billions in new funding for infrastructure, healthcare, workforce training, water resources and broadband expansion. These successes demonstrate the value and reward of Texas border communities speaking with one voice through the Texas Border Coalition.