Membership In The U.S./Mexico Border Counties Coalition

DATE: February 23, 1999 
TO: Board of Supervisors 

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors has a long track record of involvement in U.S. - Mexico border-related issues. Until recently, San Diego County has worked primarily alone on legislative efforts in Sacramento and Washington D.C. to interest the State and Federal governments in remediation of the problems we face as a border county.

In June, 1998, our Board hosted the initial organizational meeting of the 24 border counties in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The counties were invited by the Supervisors of Santa Cruz County, Arizona to form a working legislative coalition. In October, 1998, our Board hosted a Joint Meeting of the San Diego and Imperial County Boards of Supervisors with invited local government officials from Mexico to address a myriad of important border issues ranging from public health to transportation infrastructure.

We can now formally join forces with other counties along the 1,700 mile U.S.-Mexico border to raise the profile of the challenges and opportunities posed for border counties and increase the strength of border counties in addressing federal legislative issues. In adopting the following recommendations, our Board will become a formal member of the U. S. Mexico Border Counties Coalition.

1. Approve San Diego County's participation as a member in the U.S. Mexico Border Counties Coalition.

2. Appropriate $4,000 for membership dues to the U.S. Mexico Border Counties Coalition for the February through June remainder of FY 98-99.

3. Designate a Board Subcommittee of Supervisor Greg Cox and Vice Chairwoman Dianne Jacob to serve as our liaison with members of the U.S./Mexico Border Counties Coalition.

County government officials in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas need to attract and retain the full attention of the federal government in Washington D.C. to address vital border issues and allocate the appropriate national resources to this critical international border region.

Issues resulting from the enormous impacts of immigration, legal and illegal, along with concerns ranging from trade, economic development, transportation and infrastructure, to public health, environmental health, social services and criminal justice have disproportionate consequences for counties located along the international border with Mexico.

In June, 1998, our Board hosted an initial organizational meeting of the U.S. Mexico Border Counties Coalition. The Board of Supervisors of Santa Cruz County, Arizona initiated the multi-county collaborative effort in behalf of the 24 counties along the border. Supervisor Greg Cox and Vice Chairwoman Dianne Jacob , representing supervisorial districts directly adjacent the U.S. Mexico Border were designated as the subcommittee of our Board acting as the liaison to the border Counties Coalition. Both Supervisors attended a subsequent meeting of the fledgling group in El Paso, Texas in September, 1998.

In October, 1998 our Board convened a joint Board meeting of the San Diego and Imperial County Boards of Supervisors initiated by Supervisor Cox in his State of the County address for the purpose of discussing relevant issues affecting our border region. Our Board had previously directed the Chief Administrative Officer to develop a standard format for tracking the costs associated with being a border county which should be reimbursed by the federal government. That form was shared with Imperial County supervisors during the joint meeting. It is the intent of our Board to have counties across the four U.S./Mexico border states adopt a common format for detailing border related expenses to county government in documentation sent to the federal government for reimbursement. That will be accomplished through our membership in the U.S./Mexico Border Counties Coalition. San Diego County's participation in a border counties coalition would combine our resources with those of other border counties to effectively and efficiently develop and implement strategies to respond to border county challenges and to advocate for our mutual legislative agenda in Washington, D.C.

California State Senator David Kelley has expressed interest in formation of a similar organization of legislators of states along the US/Mexico border that will parallel County efforts and add clout to the efforts of counties to bring border issues to the national attention. That action would follow San Diego and Imperial County's membership in this coalition. Imperial County has already joined.

Adoption of these recommendations will advance our Board's long, aggressive track record for being proactive on border related issues and add value to our national lobbying effort.

Respectfully Submitted,

Supervisor, Second District

Supervisor, First District