REYNOSA, Mexico — The mayors of two sister-cities across the Texas-Mexico border agree that the "physical barrier" President Donald Trump desperately wants will only make the situation worse.
To start, Mexico already has all the wall it needs, according to Maki Ortiz, the mayor of Reynosa, one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico, across the Rio Grande from McAllen, Texas.
"It's called jobs, education," Ortiz told VICE News in an interview at her office Thursday. "We don't want any Mexicans to go out of the country. That's why in this city we created twenty thousand jobs. That is our wall."
McAllen, Texas, Mayor Jim Darling also doesn't think the wall is necessary.
"No question there’s violence in Mexico. But it hasn’t seeped across," Darling told VICE News. "We are the safest city in state of Texas. According to the FBI statistics, we’re the 7th safest city in U.S. But the rest of the country doesn’t know that.
Darling said that he and Ortiz often work together on initiatives to improve the relationship between their two cities. Both worry that a physical wall — and the rhetoric that's come with the effort to build it — will only serve to break up those ties and harm both places, especially since McAllen relies heavily on Mexican shoppers for its tax revenue.
"A downturn of the Mexican economy affects us," Darling said. "We feel it directly."
He went on, "We’re sister cities number one — friends, relatives. We have ten thousand people every day walk across the bridge. That many in cars come across. We never thought of the border as a challenge, but an advantage."
Ortiz spoke to VICE News in Reynosa the same morning that Trump visited McAllen to make his case that a border wall is an urgent national priority. The president met with Border Patrol agents who showed him contraband, including guns and drugs, that they said had been seized from legal ports of entry — which somewhat undermines the argument he came there to make.
The State Department ranks Reynosa, in a state, Tamaulipas, with Iraq and Afghanistan for violence. But Ortiz said more barricades won’t do anything to stop the turmoil in Mexico from reaching the United States.
"We don't deny that there is violence," she said. "But we handle it. Not with a wall, because that wall Trump is wanting to build is useless."
This segment originally aired January 10, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.