HUACHUCA CITY – After refusing an invitation to a meeting of the U.S. and Mexican border city mayors, Huachuca City Mayor Ken Taylor has been making headlines across the country.
Taylor is refusing to attend an Aug. 24 meeting of the U.S.-Mexico Border Mayors Association in Laredo, Texas because the invitation is written in both English and Spanish. The event is intended as an opportunity to address binational challenges that face both the U.S. and Mexico.
“I will NOT attend a function that is sent to me in Spanish/Mexican,” Taylor wrote in response to the emailed invitation from former El Paso Mayor John Cook, who is executive director of the Border Mayors Association. “One nation means one language and I am insulted by the division caused by language.”
Cook expressed his disappointment in Taylor’s stance and responded by saying he would be removing him from the association’s email list. “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,” said Cook in his response to Taylor’s email. “My humble apologies if I ruffled your feathers.”
In a phone interview with Taylor, he defended his position, stating that his comments were taken out of context by the media. “We (Cook and Taylor) actually exchanged several emails, and my issues were much broader than what was portrayed by the media,” said Taylor. “My issue with this goes much deeper than an invitation.”
Benson Mayor Toney King also received the emailed invitation and said that because it was sent to both English and Spanish speaking mayors on both sides of the border, it makes perfect sense for it to be written in both languages. “This meeting is a binational event, so the fact the invitation was sent in English and Spanish is something you would expect,” said King. “When we live this close to the border, we all need to work together to get along. People are just getting too offended by every little thing, and that needs to stop.”
King will not be attending the meeting because it falls at the same time as a week-long League of Cities and Towns event he attends in Phoenix every year. “I wish I could attend, because I feel these kinds of meetings between both countries are very important. I would be attending if I could,” he said. “I do not share Mr. Taylor’s concerns and I don’t believe others in this region do either,” King added.
Taylor said once his comments appeared in headlines and on news stations across the country, he started getting barraged with phone calls and emails from those who oppose his position, as well as those who support it.
“While some of the people are extremely upset about my refusal to attend the meeting, a much larger percentage of responses support my decision,” said Taylor, who feels the Mexican government is not doing enough to stop “drugs, crime and terrorists from spilling across the border into our country.”
While Taylor says he has nothing against working with Mexico on a local level, on local issues, he does object to a “global economy” reference made by Cook in the following email. “I am sorry that you don’t understand the importance of a binational association that addresses the opportunities and challenges facing both the U.S. and Mexico in a global economy.”
In response to Cook’s email, Taylor said his greatest objection is that the organization is “giving away U.S. sovereignty and making America subservient to Mexico.” Taylor said he does not want to see the U.S. taking a back seat to Mexico when it comes to border policies, trade agreements or other issues that he fears could negatively impact this country.
“The media is completely slanting what I said to John Cook in my emails,” said Taylor. “They have zeroed in on the Mexican language side of my argument and completely ignored the crux of the problem, which is giving away America’s sovereignty. They’ve taken what I said out of context, put their own slant on it and blown this Mexican language thing way out of proportion. This is a much bigger issue.”