Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 19, 2002
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez, Press Secretary
512-463-0127

Sen. Lucio appointed to prestigious Border Legislative Initiative

"Goal is to expand cooperation on bi-national issues between U.S. and Mexican Border states"

AUSTIN, TX--State Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) will be responsible for enhancing communication on binational issues between state legislators from the United States and Mexico through his prestigious appointment to the Border Legislative Initiative by Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff on June 12, 2002.

"The goal of the Initiative certainly meets one of my foremost goals as a Border legislator and chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Border Affairs," explained Sen. Lucio. "That is to either foster or expand dialogue and develop solutions to policy issues affecting the states along the U.S.-Mexico Border."

The Initiative is a project administered jointly by the Council of State Governments-WEST (CSG-WEST) and its Southern regional counterpart, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), of which Texas is a member. In the fall of 2001, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded CSG-West and SLC a two-year grant to develop and implement a Border Legislative Initiative. The Initiative was created as a self-sustaining program.

The SLC was established in 1947 as the southern regional component of CSG to encourage intergovernmental cooperation among 15 southern states. CSG-WEST is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to providing a platform for regional cooperation and collaboration among western state legislatures.

The six border states of Mexico comprise 40 percent of the country, with a population of 16.6 million, which is 17 percent of Mexico's total population. This region generates 23 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Per-capita income is $4,000 a year in the country, but in this area alone it is $6,000.

"I feel confident that we can better solve problems that originate or exist on either side of the Border, and address their impact on the rest of the state and country through this Initiative," said Sen. Lucio. "This appointment will afford me the opportunity to assess how we can improve air and water quality. We will also be looking for solutions to emergency care for immigrants, indigent care and fighting bio-terrorism.

"Texas can now unite with our counterparts in both the American and Mexican Border states to also develop crime prevention measures, to curb the trafficking of illegal drugs and to fund programs for the treatment and prevention of alcohol and drug abuse," concluded the Senator. "Working as a united front, we will be able to accomplish much more for both sides of the Border."

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