An Arizona mayor refused an invitation to a meeting of U.S. and Mexican border city mayors because it was written in both English and Spanish.
“I will NOT attend a function that is sent to me in Spanish/Mexican. One nation means one language and I am insulted by the division caused by language,” Huachuca City Mayor Ken Taylor said in a Wednesday email to former El Paso Mayor John Cook, who is executive director of the U.S.-México Border Mayors Association.
The invitation was for an Aug. 24 meeting of the U.S.-Mexico Border Mayors Association in Laredo, Texas. The invitation was in both English and Spanish.
“The excitement is building and we are ready for a great meeting of the Border Mayors Association in Laredo. We hope to see you there at 9 a.m. on August 24th at the Laredo Country Club. The draft agenda and a list of hotels is attached to this email,” Cook said in the email, which then provided the Spanish translation. “La emoción está construyendo y estamos listos para una gran reunión de la Asociación de alcaldes de la frontera en Laredo. Esperamos contar con su presencia a las 9 am el 24 de agosto en el Laredo Country Club .El proyecto de programa y una lista de hoteles se adjunta a este correo electrónico.”
In response to Taylor’s rejection of the invitation, Cook wrote: “I will certainly remove you from our email list. Ours is a bi-national association with mayors from the United States and Mexico that were elected to serve border communities. All of our communications are intended to inform mayors from both sides of our border about our association.
“The purpose of the Border Mayors Association is to speak with one voice in Washington, D.C., and Mexico City about issues that impact our communities, not to speak in one language. My humble apologies if I ruffled your feathers.”
Taylor responded: “America is going “Down Hill” fast because we spend more time catering to others that are concerned with their own self interests. It is far past time to remember that we should be “America First”… there is NOTHING wrong with that. My feathers are ruffled anytime I see anything American putting other countries First. If I was receiving correspondence from Mexican interests, I would expect to see them listed First. Likewise, when I see things produced from America, I EXPECT to see America First.”
Both Cook’s email and the formal “save the date” invitation were first in English, then in Spanish. The draft agenda was first in Spanish, then in English.
Email exchange continues
Taylor continued, “I am a Veteran who served in other Countries FOR America. I served to help protect this great nation from those who would tear us down. It has been said that “If America Fails, it will be of our own hand from within”. Anytime we cater to other countries by putting THEM first, we cause our own disgrace.”
Cook’s reply expressed disappointment in Taylor’s stance.
“I am sorry that you don’t understand the importance of a bi-national association that addresses the opportunities and challenges facing both the US and Mexico in a global economy,” Cook said in the email. “I am a volunteer with the BMA and at the risk of repeating my self will tell you the Association is about speaking with a unified voice in Washington and Mexico City. We have honored your request to be removed from our list of member cities.”
Even after Cook said he would remove Taylor from the list, Taylor continued to send emails defending his position.
“And I am sorry you don’t properly comprehend ‘America First’…. and that a ‘Global Economy’ is pointless. Giving away our sovereignty to benefit others is NOT a way to strengthen our Nation and OUR homes, it is an idea that is provably doomed to failure for the common man,” Taylor wrote. “If Mexico is NOT stopping drugs, crime, and terrorists from coming INTO our country from Mexico, then Mexico is not a friend and I don’t care to help. I have better things to do in fighting the problems they export to us.”
He continued, “The only thing I care to get from Mexico is an apology to our Nation in English and actual action that stops the carnage spilling over the border into our homes.”
Taylor declined an interview request from the El Paso Times, saying in a text message, “I already saw your article. I am not interested. I believe in America First. When I originally joined the BMA, I was led to believe it was for securing our Borders and since realized it is a group dedicated to promoting NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) which is killing our economy.”
Huachuca City is a town of about 1,900 people in southeast Arizona, about 20 miles from the Mexican border. It is adjacent to the Fort Huachuca Army post.
In an interview with the Times, Cook said he was offended by Taylor’s response to the invitation.
“I was really taken back because the invitation is pretty straightforward that it is an international organization consisting of both sides of the border,” Cook told the Times. “It was very disappointing that he evidently didn’t read far into it and was insulted that we were also communicating in Spanish. The more I think about it, this is probably a big sentiment in parts of Arizona where people do not like people to speak Spanish in this country.”
He added, “I was very surprised and quite frankly offended that somebody who had been a member of the Border Mayors Association would want to back out, or at least his city had been (a member) before. This particular mayor wasn’t in office when we started this organization many, many years ago.”
Neighboring mayor’s thoughts
Sierra Vista, Ariz., Mayor Rick Mueller said he was surprised by Taylor’s comments. Sierra Vista is less than 10 miles away from Huachuca City.
“I haven’t had an opportunity to talk to Mayor Taylor to try to understand what his issue is, but I do want to say on the record that that is not the issue here in Sierra Vista,” Mueller told the Times. “We have a great relationship with our sister city Cananea (Sonora, Mexico). We send information back and forth in English and Spanish on a regular basis.”
Taylor’s concerns aren’t shared by the entire southeast Arizona region, Mueller said.
“We don’t have that same attitude here, we are very welcoming here,” he said. “I don’t understand the issue the mayor (Taylor) has with it. Again, I really don’t feel comfortable saying anything else without talking to Mayor Taylor first, but I will say that is not the attitude we get from other mayors around this area. Quite frankly, I am really surprised that Mayor Taylor has an issue. Nobody else around here has those issues.”
Mueller said he will not be able to attend the Border Mayors Association meeting due to “budgetary reasons” limiting his ability to travel to Laredo, but stressed the importance of U.S. and Mexico officials meeting to discuss issues impacting both countries.
“It is very important to regularly communicate with officials from both sides of the border,” Mueller said. “In fact, we do have a local border mayors association. … We talk about regional issues in our area as to how we can promote trade. We have a number of folks from Mexico, who will come to shop in Sierra Vista and that is very important to us.”
He added, “We are also trying to get more and more involvement in getting people to go to Mexico as well. Because of the bad press with crime and etc. going on, people are reluctant to go to Mexico. We are trying to encourage (traveling to Mexico) … . It is good for commerce and both cultures because, in fact, we are neighbors, and in many cases, we are family.”