Brownsville says its ready to host President Biden and Charro Days at once

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President Joe Biden speaks about his actions to fight crime and make communities safer in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

Charro Days is always a busy time for law enforcement, though there’s nothing like throwing in a presidential visit to make things really interesting.

Brownsville City Manager Helen Ramirez said the city has been in close communication with the Secret Service since Friday, after being advised of President Joe Biden’s pending trip to Brownsville on Thursday.

The president will meet with local law enforcement and U.S. Border Patrol personnel, and is expected to urge passage of a bipartisan agreement on border security that died in the Senate after former president Donald Trump — in Eagle Pass Thursday — criticized it.

Ramirez acknowledged the extra workload for law enforcement and emergency personnel, but said residents’ safety won’t be compromised by Biden’s visit.

“We’re excited about the visit and we’re very much prepared,” she said.

Preparations involve multiple city departments besides the Brownsville Police Department and the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Department, including communications and marketing, the city manager’s department, offices of the mayor and city commission, and even engineering and public works if additional resources are necessary, Ramirez said.

Police Chief Felix Sauceda will be able to call on outside resources from outside the area if necessary to keep Brownsville residents and the president safe, she said.

“We have all the tools in place for a successful visit,” Ramirez said, citing the city’s “exceptional public safety team and Emergency Management and Homeland Security team.”

Mayor John Cowen Jr. said that from the city’s perspective it’s about “collaboration with the White House and their team to make sure that we’re meeting their objectives in terms of the itinerary.”

With Biden’s focus on immigration and border security, Cowen said he’s looking forward to showcasing — nationally and globally — the city’s successful model for keeping residents safe while humanely managing a high volume of migrants.

“Obviously with it being Charro Days week it presents a challenge for the city, but we do have our partners at Border Patrol and with U.S. Customs,” he said Wednesday. “They’ll be able to provide assistance as well, so it should go off without a hitch tomorrow.”

Cowen said his understanding is that Biden’s visit will last about four hours, and noted that other mayors from the South Texas Alliance of Mayors will be in Brownsville for the president’s visit as well.

“I think having that regional voice is important with the president, and showing a united front is a good thing,” Cowen said. “And it helps reinforce our message here locally in Brownsville — number one, that the border is safe and secure but we do need support from the federal government in terms of funding and … improving the processes at the border, and finding a common sense immigration solution is a key priority for us.”

Despite the obvious political aspect of Biden’s visit to Brownsville, it’s a big day anytime the president comes to town, Cowen said.

“Looking past the politics of the situation I think it’s a big honor and an opportunity … for us to speak to the world,” he said. “That’s always a good thing.”


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