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The waves of people coming to our borders seeking asylum is a crisis that has plagued our country for nearly a decade. It’s only getting worse as wars, failed governance and economic collapse around the world drive more and more people to flee their home countries and seek refuge in this country, which has long been a bastion of hope, freedom and economic opportunity. The numbers of refugees have overwhelmed U.S. officials as the backlog of requests for safe haven continues to rise.

Unfortunately, many public officials and candidates have turned the border crisis into a political football. This only complicates the issue and makes any resolution more difficult and lengthy.

They should recognize the need to put more heads together and brainstorm possible strategies, instead of firing potshots that worsen the political divide that make matters worse.

A good place to start would be for border governors — on both sides of the border — to stop using immigration for their political benefit and start exchanging information and ideas to seek possible solutions.

Riding aboard a U.S. Border Patrol SAFE boat, Texas Sen. John Cornyn is seen moving past two men fishing on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande near Anzalduas Park in Mission on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023. (Dina Arevalo | [email protected])

A good place to start would be to resurrect the Border Governors Conferences, an annual gathering that brought together the executives from the four U.S. and six Mexican states along our common border. The meetings led to bilateral approaches to common issues, and gave strength to border-related presentations and requests that were forwarded to both countries’ federal governments.

In fact, federal officials increasingly participated in the annual summits as officials from our own departments of Homeland Security, Commerce and Environmental Protection began attending and thus including a federal presence into the negotiating process.

Recently, however, individual governors, particularly Texas’ Greg Abbott, have boycotted the meetings. Reasons for their refusal to participate have ranged from the drug war to the threat of cartel encroachment across the border to, most recently, border security and immigration.

These issues, however, are best addressed on both sides of the border, and inclusion of all border states helps secure more reasonable, comprehensive strategies that have a better chance of success.

Two swimmers are seen on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande as two U.S. Border Patrol SAFE boats approach the docks at Anzalduas Park in Mission in Friday, Oct. 27, 2023. (Dina Arevalo | [email protected])

Immigration isn’t the only issue they need to address. Recent railway mishaps show the need to make sure trains from both countries are safe. In addition, Texas’ water infrastructure badly needs attention, as does Mexico’s increasing inattention to the water-sharing treaty between our two countries.

Moreover, immigration is an issue that plagues both countries, as most people seeking asylum here are not from Mexico but from Central America, Cuba, China and other countries.

These are complex issues that have plagued the border region for years, and are best addressed by active and frank exchanges of ideas. Grandstanding by politicians who place their own interests ahead of the public’s needs only make matters worse.

Border officials, beginning with Abbott, need to set aside their personal agendas and begin addressing the needs of the people they were elected to serve. If they don’t, voters should consider the need to elect other people who will.