An Arizona mayor made headlines for his outburst over receiving a bilingual U.S.-Mexico Border Mayors Association meeting invitation, saying he refuses an invitation “in Spanish/Mexican.” Mayor Ken Taylor of Huachuca City, Arizona, used divisive rhetoric strikingly similar to the derogatory tone that has fueled Trump’s campaign since day one.
“I will NOT attend a function that is sent to me in Spanish/Mexican,” Taylor said in an email to former El Paso, Texas, Mayor John Cook, executive director of the association.
“One nation means one language, and I am insulted by the division caused by language,” Taylor wrote.
It is standard, however, to send correspondence regarding a binational event in two languages, the New York Times reported.
The U.S.-Mexico Border Mayors Association is, according to its website (which can be read in English or Spanish), “a leading authority on border issues.” Further, the association pledges to “speak with a unified voice as we make recommendations to our State Legislatures and U.S. Congress that will help the Mexico and United States border region grow and prosper economically.”
Cook stated that he was caught off guard by Taylor’s response, but he “didn’t want to pick a fight.” In his response to Taylor, Cook said, “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.”
Despite Cook’s apology, however, Taylor continued attacking the “Mexican” invitation.
“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.”
The “save the date” invitation and Cook’s email were both in English first and then translated into Spanish, the El Paso Times reported. The draft agenda was in Spanish first and then translated into English.
Cook removed Taylor from the group’s email list.
“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 wrote to Taylor. “I am a volunteer with the BMA and at the risk of repeating myself will tell you the Association is about speaking with a unified voice in Washington and Mexico City.”
But this was not enough for Taylor.
“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,” he said in an email to Cook. “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.”
Huachuca City is 29 percent Latino; nearly the entire Latino population is of Mexican descent. The city had been involved with the organization since before Taylor became mayor, according to Cook.
“This particular mayor wasn’t in office when we started this organization many, many years ago,” he said.
Anti-Latino Rhetoric Nationwide
In an interview with the El Paso Times, Cook pointed out that Taylor’s response illustrates a larger, nationwide problem.
“I was really taken back because the invitation is pretty straightforward that it is an international organization consisting of both sides of the border,” he said. “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.”
Indeed, the incident involving Taylor illustrates the widespread effects of negative rhetoric regarding immigrants and Latinos throughout the presidential election. Trump opened the door for such remarks the day he launched his campaign, calling the U.S. a “dumping ground” for Mexico’s worst people. He described Mexican immigrants as rapists, saying they are bringing crime and drugs to America. Taylor’s assertion that Mexico is allowing crime, drugs and terrorists into the U.S. echoes Trump’s sentiments.
Trump also used his campaign announcement speech to introduce his plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The wall has become a focal point of Trump’s campaign, with supporters frequently chanting “build that wall” at rallies.
Taylor’s use of “America First” also brings to mind themes from the Republican National Convention in July. One theme of the day was, “Make America First Again,” following the pattern of Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again” which many people interpret as “Make America White Again.”