Texas Governor says he will accept Mexican offer of Hurricane Harvey relief

Despite poor relations between the U.S. and Mexico, Texas' neighbor to the south is offering vehicles, food, medicine and water. The State Department thanked Mexico for its "very generous" offer.

President Trump visited Texas on Tuesday and attended a briefing on the flood with Governor Greg Abbott. Getty Images

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Wednesday the state is accepting Mexico's offer to help with recovery efforts from historic flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

"We had a list of aid and assistance that they have offered to provide that we are accepting," Abbott told reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

The assistance will start arriving in Texas within days, Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, the consul general in Austin, told the Dallas Morning News. "Mexico looks forward to doing its share," he added.

The assistance includes vehicles, boats and food, part of a long list of items included in a diplomatic note the Mexican government delivered on Tuesday, the governor's press office told Univision.

Mexican officials say they are also prepared to offer troops, medicine, portable showers and water. It was unclear if Mexican troops would accompany the relief aid, as occured during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Mexico's military has specialized civil protection units that could be mobilized, according to experts.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson thanked Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray Caso after a meeting at the State Department in Washington, saying "It was very generous of Mexico to offer their help at a very, very challenging time for our citizens back in Texas."

Videgaray responded: "You're absolutely welcome. We are here to help. We are friends. We are neighbors and that's what friends do."

Mexico's offer of help comes at a delicate time for U.S.-Mexico relations, under strain from repeated verbal attacks by U.S. President Donald Trump since he launched his campaign last year by referring to Mexicans as rapists, murderers and criminals. Abbott is a Republican and strong supporter of Trump, despite representing a state with a large Hispanic population, mostly of Mexican descent.

At Trump's insistence, the U.S., Mexico and Canada are engaged in talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), from which Trump has repeatedly threatened to withdraw.

On Friday, a Texas law (SB4) giving police the right to ask the immigration status of people they detain, is due to take effect. Texas's biggest cities — Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin — have filed a lawsuit against SB4, arguing that the law is unconstitutional and would hurt local policing efforts by undermining confidence in the police among immigrants.

The Trump administration also appears set to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, created by the Obama administration to protect the children of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents. Texas is one of 10 states challenging the Justice Department to end DACA, threatening to sue if Trump doesn't end the program by Sept. 5.

This is not the first time that Mexico has come to the rescue of a U.S. state in distress. In 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, Mexican soldiers crossed into the United States to join the relief effort at a U.S. Air Force Base near San Antonio. They served victims 170,000 meals, distributed 184,000 tons of supplies and conducted hundreds of medical consultations.

Images of the day Mexican troops crossed the border to help the U.S. © 2015 Univision Communications Inc.

Trump has not commented on Mexico's latest offer to help. He caused uproar on Sunday as the flood waters began to inundate Houston by using Twitter to insist that Mexico would pay for his much touted border wall. On Monday, he repeated his threat the the U.S. would pull out of NAFTA.