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Austin, TX – There have been a number of powerful responses to the President’s lies about crime, immigration and border issues in El Paso, Texas during his State of the Union address. In a piece published in Texas Monthly yesterday, Chris Hooks outlines just how President Trump has used Texas as a backdrop in his obsession to build a wall on the country’s southern border. Hooks’ piece comes ahead of President Trump’s scheduled campaign rally in El Paso, Texas on Monday that will certainly be used to rile up support from his base and continue spreading falsehoods about the border region.
Below is an excerpt from the Texas Monthly piece from Chris Hooks. Find the story in its entirety here.
President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech contained a number of unusual claims, but one in particular stood out. “The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime,” the president said, “one of the highest in the country, and [was] considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities. Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.” The White House thought it had made a very powerful point, and the president’s allies repeated this claim a lot on Tuesday, some more skillfully than others. Donald Trump Jr. tweeted that Juarez had more murders annually than El Paso does “Because wall [sic] work!!!”
Unfortunately, every part of what the president said is delusional. El Paso has been one of the safest cities in the country for decades and fencing along the border, erected in 2009, didn’t affect the rate of violent crime at all. But it’s not surprising that Trump got it wrong. For Trump, Texas is a backdrop and nothing more. It’s the president’s Westworld. That’s a very peculiar thing for Texas to experience, because the state is accustomed to deference from Republican administrations—deference it has earned. And the strangest thing of all is who is going along with it.
On July 23, 2015, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign landed on Texas for the first time, with a deafening thwack. A Laredo chapter of the Border Patrol Union had invited Trump—who had recently launched his presidential campaign by seeming to call many Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals in a garbled and semi-coherent speech—to tour the border. They uninvited him after pressure from national HQ but he came anyway.
He spent about three hours on the ground in Laredo, and it was a circus. Reporters tracked Trump’s private plane in real time as it crossed the state border, and when he landed, it took two charter buses to carry the press corps from the airport to the World Trade International Bridge, where Trump gave a ten-minute press conference, and back to the airport. The speed and urgency was reminiscent of presidential trips to war zones, which is what Trump professed to believe he was experiencing.
“They say it’s a great danger [to be here], but I have to do it,” he told reporters at the airport. “I’m the one who brought up the problem of illegal immigration,” and so it was his duty to bring more attention to it here, at the epicenter of the threat. Who’s they, a reporter asked? “I have to do it,” Trump repeated. “I have to do it.” Of the border patrol officers he met, he said, “they’re petrified”—in fact so petrified that they were afraid to talk about how petrified they were. It had been worth it to come if only to see his many supporters greet him as he got off the plane, he said. (A number of those there to “greet” him were protesters.)
Mario Carrillo, State Director of America’s Voice Texas, issued the following statement,
It’s disheartening to see my hometown become President Trump’s latest backdrop for his lies in his effort to drum up fear to build a wall that the majority of Americans, and the vast majority of border residents, don’t want.
Trump continues to lie about El Paso and its history of being one of the safest cities in the country, despite pushback from elected officials and experts who point out that the border city was safe long before the building of the fencing that exists today.
El Paso residents refuse to be used to further an agenda of hate, and in fact, our city has a long history of welcoming immigrants and asylum seekers, much like it welcomed me and family many years ago. If President Trump is really interested in bridging divides, he should visit El Paso, but instead go to the shelters that have housed asylum seekers, or business owners who thrive because of the city’s biculturalism, and not only peddle deceptions for another photo op.