One day after President Trump singled out El Paso, Texas, as “one of our safest cities” in his State of the Union address — an attempt to bolster demand for his proposed wall along the U.S./Mexico border — his 2020 campaign on Wednesday announced plans to hold its first rally of 2019 in the city. The event is scheduled for Monday, February 11th at the El Paso County Coliseum, The Texas Tribune reports.
El Paso is located directly on the U.S./Mexico border, a fact that Trump highlighted Tuesday during his lengthy speech. “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,” he said. “Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.”
“Simply put,” he added, “walls work, and walls save lives.”
The rally arrives amid ongoing negotiations between Trump and congressional Democrats, with the president aiming for more than $5 billion in funding for the wall — his signature campaign promise. The political jockeying of recent months resulted not in a wall but in a record-breaking federal shutdown; in late January, Trump reopened the government through February 15th, emphasizing that he would either enforce another shutdown or “use the powers afforded to [him] under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.”
The El Paso rally will be Trump’s first in the city and his seventh in the state since announcing his firs presidential candidacy in 2015. “As the President continues his fight to secure the border, there’s no better place to demonstrate that walls work than in El Paso,” Michael Glassner, the Trump campaign’s chief operating officer, said in a statement.
Many of Trump’s critics have questioned the president’s State of the Union remarks about El Paso. “He lies. @POTUS is once again lying and using the #SOTU address to spread falsehoods about our beloved city of El Paso,” Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) tweeted Tuesday night. “Fact is that El Paso has been one of the safest cities in the nation long before the wall was built in 2008.”
El Paso also happens to be the hometown of rising Democratic star Beto O’Rourke, who narrowly lost a senate bid to Ted Cruz in the 2018 midterm elections. O’Rourke, who had represented Texas’ 16th Congressional district in Congress since 2013, told Oprah Winfrey on Tuesday afternoon that he will make a decision about running for president by the end of this month.
O’Rourke tweeted his own fact-check response to Trump’s State of the Union claims about the city. “Our government built a border fence in El Paso in 2008, a misguided response to 9/11 (no terrorists have crossed the southern border and attacked this country),” he wrote Wednesday. “It didn’t make us any safer. In fact crime in El Paso increased after it was built.”
Our government built a border fence in El Paso in 2008, a misguided response to 9/11 (no terrorists have crossed the southern border and attacked this country). It didn’t make us any safer. In fact crime in El Paso increased after it was built. https://t.co/JtP6ZxEoIE
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) February 6, 2019