EL PASO, Texas (Nexstar) – President Donald Trump’s polarizing visit to Texas on Monday has fired up people on both sides of the aisle. The President highlighted the border city as justification for building a wall during his State of the Union address.
“The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime– one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our Nation’s most dangerous cities,” Mr. Trump said in the Feb. 5 address. “Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.”
“Simply put, walls work and walls save lives,” he said as Republican lawmakers applauded.
Texas Democratic leaders called the President’s statements about El Paso an attempt to fear monger.
“I wish that the president would use facts versus political red meat to talk about our community,” said State Rep. Cesar Blanco, D-El Paso. Blanco’s district includes the El Paso County Coliseum, where Mr. Trump’s Make America Great Again rally is scheduled for Monday.
“My home is literally yards from the border wall, and (to) say that we need it because places like El Paso are unsafe and I’ve had the highest amount of crime is completely false,” Blanco said.
The visit comes on the heels of one government shutdown and as another one looms at the end of the week, which stemmed from political disagreements over border wall funding.
“He wants to put that on the back of the American taxpayer, because I guess he couldn’t get Mexico to pay for it,” Blanco stated.
El Paso Mayor Dee Margo said his community is at the heart of immigration issues, and needs to be part of the conversation.
“I’ve been saying for months, if people want to talk about immigration, they need to come to El Paso,” Margo said. “We need to control our borders and that fence is a part of that whole process, but it’s not the… end game solution,” Margo said.
In a Feb. 5 State of the State address just hours before President Trump delivered his State of the Union, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called on the state to fund more border security.
State lawmakers approved $800 million in the previous legislative session, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, along with GOP supporters in the upper chamber, want to see that happen again.
“We’re going to do that again this session, sure wish we didn’t have to but until the federal government is able to do its job we’re going to keep doing it,” State Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, said.
“We’re thankful that on the Texas side of the border, cities like El Paso, McAllen, those are wonderful communities, economy is growing, of course, the great folks that live there and they are great places to live,” Hughes explained. “We can’t help but acknowledge that right across the border things are pretty tough, not just economics but also dangerous conditions with drug cartels and a lot of bad stuff is happening.”
Margo sees it differently.
“We’ve had a relationship with Mexico for over 400 years,” he stated. “You cannot tell the difference between where El Paso ends and where Juarez, Mexico begins if you stand at the top of one of our bank buildings and look out.”
Abbott, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller are among the state leaders confirmed to join the President during the Monday visit.
“We’re glad he knows where Texas is and we’re glad he’s listening to us,” Hughes said.
Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, an El Paso native who lost a 2018 bid to unseat Cruz, is participating in a rally scheduled to take place across the street from the Trump event, called “March for Truth: Stop the Wall, Stop the Lies.”
Mr. Trump’s rally starts at 7:00 local time.