By Bethany Blankley (The Center Square)
Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez on Wednesday invited President Joe Biden to visit his county, imploring him to do so before making “any substantial changes to current border policy.”
The county announced the letter to the president in a news release to the local community, stating, “As May 23 deadline to end Title 42 approaches, Judge Cortez sent President Joe Biden a letter inviting him to Hidalgo County before Administration ‘makes any substantial changes to current border policy.’”
The county was particularly impacted by the coronavirus, Cortez argues, with its healthcare facilities operating at maximum capacity and frontline medical workers working tirelessly for the past two years. Ending Title 42 would create an unsustainable burden for citizens and taxpayers living in the county, and the region, he argues.
On April 1, the CDC announced it was ending the public health authority, citing available treatments for the coronavirus as justification. It said, the “Order suspending the right to introduce migrants into the United States is no longer necessary.”
Multiple states sued and last week a judge issued a temporary restraining order, blocking the administration from halting the policy.
However, the county is bracing to potentially be inundated by several hundred thousand people waiting in Mexico who are initially expected to enter once Title 42 is lifted if it isn’t permanently halted by a judge.
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“As a public servant in a border community,” Cortez wrote the president, “I must implore you to visit our region before the existing Order is suspended.”
“While the final impact of migrants entering the United States is shared across the entirety of our great nation, the initial impact is limited to border communities such as ours,” he said. “We bear the responsibility of welcoming, treating, and caring for these migrants even as we struggle to care for the less fortunate in our community.
“If we continue on the current path that ceases enforcement of the current order, the negative consequences are expected to be real and immediate for American Citizens living in border communities across the Southwest,” he warned.
Cortez, a Democrat, is running for reelection in a Texas border community that’s been inundated with crime and violence stemming from cartel violence and trafficking. The largest city in the county is McAllen; Edinburgh is the county seat.
Those entering Texas illegally through Mexico, often through McAllen, primarily head north on highway 281 through Edinburgh to Houston or San Antonio.
The county, Cortez said, “is situated at unique crossroads of national security and economic considerations. We are the frontlines in the physical safety and security of this State and Country while simultaneously serving as the key thoroughfare for agricultural commodities.”
Roughly 880,000 people live in the 1,500 square mile county. The majority, 92.5%, are Hispanic; 23.9% live at the poverty level, according to most recent Census data.
While the residents have traditionally voted Democratic over the last few decades, in the 2020 Election, voters significantly shifted right. Republican votes for Donald Trump increased from 27.9% in 2016 to 41% in 2020.
Republican candidate Dr. Esmeralda Flores is hoping to unseat Cortez this November.
Several Democrats in the Rio Grande Valley are facing tough reelections in the May runoff election and in November. Hispanic Texans in border communities who have traditionally voted Democrat are increasingly expressing support for Republican candidates promising strong security measures and a safer way of life for their families.