NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Governor Chris Christie will be traveling to Mexico today and spending a total of three days south of the border this week, according to his public schedule.
Christie and his delegation of New Jersey leaders will meet with Mexican business leaders with the goal of promoting “increased trade, economic growth, job creation and higher education in both New Jersey and Mexico.”
Among the delegation is New Brunswick Martin Perez, President of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey and a member of the Rutgers University Board of Governors.
The delegation, which was announced yesterday, consists of business, energy, and higher education leaders, including a three of the fifteen members of the Rutgers University Board of Governors (BOG).
Greg Brown, an Illinois resident who leads both the BOG and the Motorola Corporation, and Ralph Izzo, a former BOG Chair and current President of the Public Service Enterprise Group (PSE&G) are both set to join the governor for the trip.
Plans include a meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto, the Mexican Finance Minister, and the country's Energy Minister.
According to the Christie administration, New Jersey's total exports to Mexico exceeded $2.1 billion dollars last year, while Mexico exported nearly $3.4 billion in goods to NJ during the same period of time.
The administration claims that the trip has nothing to do with the Christie's potential to run for President in 2016, but it is hard to argue that the trip does not have national implications.
The United States has a Hispanic population of 17% (53 million), making individuals of Hispanic origin the largest ethnic minority in the nation and one of the fastest growing voter bases.
New Brunswick has the second-highest Mexican population of any town or city in New Jersey. According to the most recent census, which traditionally undercounts undocumented residents, New Brunswick is 49.9% Hispanic.
Christie received 51% of the statewide Hispanic vote during his re-election last year, and nearly 20% of New Jerseys population is Hispanic.
Lazos America Unida –“the American ties that bind”– is a Brunswick-based organization that tackles issues facing Mexican-Americans locally, as well as provides programs for youth and community.
Its founder, Teresa Vivar, said some Mexicans agree with the Governor's visit to Mexico, but many do not.
"Mexican Americans of NJ must get organized… Lazos is helping to organize because our community is growing and we have not enough representation at the state level," said Vivar.
"The governor's initiative is important for the Mexican community, but without this representation we are going to still be NOT VISIBLE either for the Mexican or NJ government."
With the recent influx of thousands of children crossing the US-Mexico border in hopes of finding refuge in the United States, immigration is once again one of the top political issues facing voters and politicians.
Despite having a “great empathy for the situation” and recently being outspoken about the issues surrounding immigration, Christie will not be visiting the border during his trip.