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There's more to our border than a wall

When President Donald Trump lands in San Diego for his first trip to California since taking office, he will find a city with a tremendous story to tell on international trade, border infrastructure and public safety.

The president is only expected to be here for a few hours. If he stayed longer, he would see that in San Diego a strong local economy and free trade aren’t a contradiction but a way of life.

He would see firsthand how a major American city benefits from having not just a modern border crossing but also a working relationship with Mexico. San Diego is living proof that a healthy economy, low unemployment rate and strong international ties are not mutually exclusive.

He would hear that San Diego’s international ports of entry — including the largest land border crossing in the world — are an economic engine that thousands of businesses and residents rely on. From life sciences to manufacturing, San Diego’s economy depends on federal policies that encourage the cross-border exchange of goods and ideas.

He would find that San Diego’s longstanding approach to community policing has kept us one of the safest big cities in America. While the federal and state governments battle in court over immigration laws, San Diego is continuing with its balanced approach that has worked for years under both Democratic and Republican administrations. SDPD works to protect everyone regardless of their immigration status because trust between the community and law enforcement is key to stopping crime and keeping neighborhoods safe. If someone commits a crime, they will be held accountable whether or not they are a citizen.

The president would see that building bridges has worked wonders for the San Diego-Tijuana megaregion. The Cross Border Xpress and improvements to the San Ysidro Port of Entry are making the flow of goods and services faster, easier and more efficient than ever.

There has never been a more important time for San Diego and Tijuana to champion international trade. The national debate over NAFTA will have profound effects for both cities. A good deal is when both sides benefit — and, by that score, NAFTA has been a great deal, producing billions in economic impact as well as good-paying jobs and economic prosperity for Americans and Mexicans alike.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t have legitimate areas where we must improve relations with Mexico. For example, we have serious work to do addressing the ongoing Tijuana River Valley sewage and waste spills affecting the San Diego region’s environment and quality of life. But we can only make progress if we maintain an open dialogue focused on results.

Too much of the national conversation about trade and the border comes from people who have not had the opportunity to step foot in border cities like San Diego.

President Trump’s visit to San Diego is brief, but the policies he’s pursuing will have a huge impact on our region. I will continue to encourage his administration to look to San Diego as the premier example of how binational collaboration can result in fair trade and smart border investments that support American jobs and families.

By: Kevin Faulconer
http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com

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