Texas Tribune event puts border culture, politics and economy in the spotlight

Border Report Tour

Statewide news website explores politics, economy of region directly affected by White House policies

Maylin Reyes hangs a Mexican flag at a makeshift memorial near the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — El Paso leaders in the past complained their city was often left out of the statewide conversation. That changes Thursday when the Texas Tribune hosts its “Future of the Border Region” event at the University of Texas at El Paso.

“It’s really important that the rest of the state understands how important El Paso is not only to Texas economy but also to the national economy. This is a really good thing,” said Jon Barela, chief executive officer of the Borderplex Alliance, a nonprofit promoting business and economic development in the El Paso-Juarez-Las Cruces region.

A snapshot of a previous Texas Tribune event featuring state Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, and state Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio. (photo courtesy Texas Tribune website)

“Future of the Border Region” takes place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. MDT at UTEP’s Union Building East, 315 W. University Ave. Admission is free but all seats have been reserved as of Thursday. You can follow the event live on the Texas Tribune website.

The statewide news website bills the event as a day-long series of conversations on the economic, political and cultural significance and evolution of the border region. Guest speakers are scheduled to talk about how the federal government views the border, politics, economic development, and education.

“This conversation about the future of the border is really important, especially in light of the Trump administration,” said U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, another featured speaker.

She said Trump’s policies have been harmful to the border, referring to everything from the anti-immigrant discourse that plays to the president’s electoral base but insults the predominantly Hispanic population of the border, to shifting military dollars toward the construction of a border wall that has drawn much opposition here.

“Much of what’s happened over the last three years has been harmful to the border, so how do we continue to try to propel our (border) agenda in the face of an agenda that is counter to our own benefit?” Escobar said.

The opening panel on “The Federal View of the Border” includes Escobar and Hunt Companies senior chairman Woody Hunt.

A press officer for U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, who also represents El Paso, said the congressman wasn’t invited.

“The Tribune diversified who’s on stage. There are only a handful of Texas lawmakers to pull from that we need to bring in to get afresh perspective at once. That kind of means the lineup that you see,” said Nathalie Choate, director of marketing and communications for the Tribune.

For a schedule of the day’s events, visit here.

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