Texas has accepted an offer for aid from the Mexican government for the victims of Harvey, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday, adding recovery efforts will begin within the next few days.
"Yes. I have, and we are," Abbott confirmed to Austin reporters. "We had a list of aid and assistance that they have offered to provide that we are accepting."
Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, Mexico's consul general in Austin, expressed his pleasure and relief at the governor's decision and stated that a few items on Mexico’s long list of supplies, such as boats, food, medicine, portable showers, water, and military personnel will arrive shortly.
"Mexico looks forward to doing its share," Gutierrez said.
"Texas and Mexico share more than half the border," Carlos Sada, Mexico's North American Relations undersecretary said. "There are families, marriages, businesses that bind our two sides. This is about being good neighbors."
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson thanked Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray Caso for its “wide range of assistance.”
"It was very generous of Mexico to offer their help at a very, very challenging time for our citizens back in Texas," he said.
"You're absolutely welcome,” Videgaray answered, “We are here to help. We are friends. We are neighbors, and that's what friends do."
In 2005, Mexico helped victims after Hurricane Katrina devastated the southern region of the United States, claiming more than 1,800 lives.
The country sent medical personnel and engineers, as well as drinking water and food to people in Louisiana and Mississippi, delivering a total of 170,000 meals, distributing more than 184,000 tons of supplies and conducting more than 500 medical consultations.
Texas is home to almost 10 million Latinos, primarily of Mexican origin. Immigrants and undocumented people have sought shelter from Harvey’s relentless rains and were reassured by Sada that they will not be deported while seeking aid.
"Don't be afraid to come out. There is no deportation operation underway. We have the assurance of Gov. Abbott and the mayor of Houston," the Mexican official said.
U.S. President Donald Trump has yet to respond to Mexico’s offer of aid, although he quickly accepted assistance from Singapore to send four rescue helicopters.
"Mexico's desire to be humane at a time of such great need contrasts the character and the churlishness coming out of Washington, D.C., and NAFTA," said Tony Garza, former U.S. ambassador to Mexico.
"In Texas, given the Legislature's focus these past few months on sanctuary cities sends a clear signal to hundreds of thousands of Texans, particularly Latinos along the Gulf Coast and in Harris County, that we're not with you and in an increasingly purple state, that may mean something," Garza said.
In a flurry of tweets earlier this week, Trump reinforced his “build the wall” narrative, insisting that Mexico will pay for the wall.
But the Mexican Foreign Ministry's reiterated its stance, “As the government of Mexico has always maintained, our country will not pay for, under any circumstances ... a wall or physical barrier built on U.S. territory along the Mexican border.”