Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul wants to make sure that rhetoric surrounding Mexico and immigration does not hurt border region economies.
McCaul, who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, spoke with NPR about concerns from local elected officials and businesspeople that President Donald Trump’s talk about the border has reduced tax revenue in McAllen.
“Mexico is our largest trading partner in Texas,” McCaul said. “We have to be careful with this rhetoric. And we also need to make sure that our trade policies don’t hurt our local economies.”
When asked he had told the White House to tone down the rhetoric, McCaul partially laughed.
“I think it’s clear that we can’t always control what comes out of the White House,” he said. “And so I will tell you in private conversations that we view Mexico as a trading partner.”
McCaul recently accompanied House Speaker Paul D. Ryan to visit the U.S.-Mexico border and said he was briefed on the concerns about drug trafficking and national security threats.
“I think the threat justifies the security,” he said. “But I think we need to do it right and have the right rhetoric behind it.”
McCaul said the border wall that Trump made a centerpiece of his presidential campaign should be erected “where physical barriers make sense,” but would only be part of a “multi-layered defense approach.”
“You have to understand, too, that a 30-foot concrete wall is a very expensive proposition. And there are a lot of other things we can be doing technology-wise to make it a smart border that’s more effective and more cost efficient,” he told NPR.