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    BORDER TRADE Those of us that live here on the border between the U.S. and Mexico take for granted the sister city concept. We are well aware how closely the economies of the two countries are intertwined. However, for many Americans this relationship is little understood, if at all.
    A report by Americas Society/Council of the Americas notes some important points:
    1. Mexico, is the 2nd largest destination for U.S. goods and services right after Canada. In 2012, U.S. goods and services totaled more than $216 Billion. This total is more than the exports to Japan and China combined! There has been much talk by President Trump on what a bad deal NAFTA is. Since NAFTA was signed in 1994, trade between the two countries reached $494 Billion in 2012. We must ask the question, how does free trade with Mexico affect the U.S.?
    2. Literally millions of U.S. jobs are reliant on trade with Mexico as well as efficient cross border commerce facilitation. This same report indicates that 6 million U.S. jobs are a result of bilateral trade with Mexico. In other words, one in 24 workers depend on U.S.-Mexico trade.
    3. There are key U.S. industries that are vital to a healthy U.S. economy that depend on Mexico. The top exports to Mexico are machinery, mineral fuel and oil, vehicles, and plastic. In 2012, that added $128 Billion to the U.S. economy.
    Allow me to bust a myth, cars built in the U.S. are not wholly built in the U.S. anymore. U.S. Car Manufacturers have created a production-sharing model. This means that cars built in the U.S. cross both the Canadian and Mexican border at least 8 times during production.
    4. The Mexican middle class continues to grow and they legally cross the border to spend tourism dollars in the U.S. In 2010, 13 million Mexicans came to the U.S. spending $8.7 Billion
    5. Border communities depend on Mexico to keep their economies growing. For Arizona, California, and Texas—their main export destination is Mexico.
    23 States indicate that Mexico is their number 1 or 2 export market. With 36 states showing Mexico as a top-5 market. It is clear Mexico is now and will remain an important trade partner. This trade relationship is important to the vitality of the U.S. economy. As I said, Building a Wall is not the Answer!
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    EDUCATION We constantly hear about the importance of a good education and attending a university or college after high school. And most certainly, the positive effect this will have on your future is undeniable. However, students today are faced with ever increasing tuition costs, not to mention increases in fees and the cost of books. Even with grants, such as the Pell Grant, students face hardships and difficulty paying for their post-high school education. According to the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation, the average yearly tuition at a public university is over $9000. With students spending approximately $1200 on textbooks yearly. The maximum Federal Pell Grant for 2016–17 (July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017) was $5,815. The amount an individual student may receive depends on a number of factors.
    The end result is many students and their families are not able to handle the financial burden, thus they drop out or are faced with taking costly students loans. These student loans can continue to be financial burden for years to come after graduation.
    In order to truly make a college education available to everyone, it is going to require greater support from the federal government to our public education institutions. This would likely require some form of taxation. One solution offered by Bernie Sanders is a tax on Wall Street investment houses, hedge funds, and other stock trades.
    I strongly believe that receiving a quality education is a basic right, not any different than our first amendment rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
    If elected, I will actively support legislation and initiatives that will lower the costs of tuition, and greatly reduce the interest for student loans.
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    THE ENVIRONMENT I recently saw a documentary produced by actor and environmental activist Leonardo di Caprio entitled "Before the Flood." This prompted me to give you my thoughts on climate change. I am running for the Texas 16th Congressional District and we live in the rocky desert. However, we too, must keep the health of our oceans in mind.
    It is said that the future of mankind lies in the stars, but saving our oceans is a priority here and now. If we do not take care of our oceans and seas, mankind may not survive long enough to look for another planet when earth is finally destroyed by the sun.
    One of the constants in life is change. Over the past 4.5 billion years, the earth slowly evolved to become the life bearing planet it is today. For some it is unthinkable, that mankind could have a negative effect on the world's oceans--given their abundance and vastness. Yet, since the industrial revolution man has contributed an increase in the overall temperature of the climate. This global warming is having a profound effect on the world's oceans. Various studies have shown that global warming is causing the accelerated melting of the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps which will raise the overall sea levels. This rise in sea level will cause a catastrophic flooding of low lying coastal areas, globally.
    Pollution resulting from the use of fossil fuels is causing an acidification of the oceans which have a direct effect on the health of the oceans' reefs. Coral reefs are a cornerstone of the diverse and abundant sea life on earth. The devastation and loss of coral reefs will have a detrimental effect on man's ability to harvest food from the ocean. It is estimated that more than 3.5 billion people depend on the ocean as their primary source for food. This is approximately half of the world's population.
    Warming of the oceans has also been shown to be responsible for increasing the severity and frequency of hurricanes. With the increasing strength of these storms, large swaths of coral reefs are being damaged. What took millions of years to create is destroyed in seconds.
    In the early life of our planet, it was the ocean that helped spawn life. It remains an integral part of man's survival on earth. As the health of the ocean goes, so goes the health of mankind.
    What is needed today are leaders, not politicians. If elected, I will work to safe guard the environment for future generations. Global warming is not a hoax. The science is real.
    The actions we take today as individuals, as a species,--to maintain the health of our oceans and bodies of water through protective environmental policies-- will ultimately determine whether mankind survives. We are truly at a crossroads, will man as the steward of this water planet nurture it or destroy it?
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