EL PASO — President Trump got here to this bustling border town on Monday to rally strengthen for his wall with Mexico. However he was once met by way of El Paso’s favourite son, Beto O’Rourke, who denounced Mr. Trump’s declare that partitions scale back violent crime and led the town’s citizens in his personal boisterous display of opposition.
The dueling rallies, simply around the Rio Grande from Mexico, introduced a bright snapshot of the nationwide debate over immigration, in addition to a tantalizing early glimpse of the contention between Mr. Trump and Mr. O’Rourke, the previous Texas congressman who’s now bearing in mind a problem to the president in 2020.
As he mulls a run for the Democratic presidential nomination, Mr. O’Rourke has seized on immigration as a defining factor. With an inherent ability for political theater that even Mr. Trump took notice of, Mr. O’Rourke addressed a crowd lower than a mile from the El Paso County Coliseum, the place the president spoke to hundreds of cheering supporters.
“We don’t seem to be secure as a result of partitions however regardless of partitions,” Mr. O’Rourke mentioned, chatting with supporters inside of earshot of Mr. Trump’s rally. “Now we have such a lot to present, such a lot to turn the remainder of the rustic.”
Within the enviornment, Mr. Trump was once flanked by way of banners that mentioned, “End the Wall,” and he confronted a sea of pink and blue indicators urging him to “Construct the Wall.”
“We’d like the wall, and it must be constructed,” Mr. Trump mentioned, including, “These days we began construction the large stunning wall proper at the Rio Grande.”
Mr. Trump’s rally, his first since an acrimonious debate over investment of the wall close down the federal government, got here as negotiators in Washington seemed to succeed in a deal, doubtlessly keeping off some other shutdown. The president mentioned he was once instructed concerning the settlement simply earlier than taking the level.
“We almost certainly have some just right information,” Mr. Trump mentioned, nearly grudgingly, earlier than including, “I don’t even wish to listen about it.”
In an interview with Laura Ingraham of Fox Information that aired on the finish of the rally, Mr. Trump gave the impression extra concerned about speaking concerning the collection of supporters within the crowd on Monday evening than about an replace on negotiations with Congress.
The president mentioned he had had the choice of receiving a briefing at the negotiations or occurring digicam.
“It was once between the deal and also you, and I had to make a choice you,” Mr. Trump mentioned. “They’re speaking, and we’ll see what occurs.”
The president’s collection of El Paso to make his argument was once curious on a number of grounds. Violent crime in fact declined for years on this colourful immigrant town around the river from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, earlier than the Military Corps of Engineers started construction a fence in 2008. It rose throughout the 2 years earlier than and after the barrier was once built.
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A Democratic stronghold in a most commonly Republican state, El Paso has lengthy been some of the more secure towns of its dimension in america — a pattern that native cops characteristic to the citizens and neighborhood policing, to not the border fence.
Nonetheless, if Mr. Trump sought after to power the talk with Democrats, he may rarely have selected a greater position. The presence of Mr. O’Rourke, who represented the town in Congress earlier than he gave up his Area seat to run unsuccessfully for the Senate, assured the president the type of war of words he relishes, although the 2 males didn’t come head to head.
Mr. Trump misplaced little time in ridiculing Mr. O’Rourke, describing him as “a tender guy who’s were given little or no going for himself, with the exception of he’s were given a just right first identify.”
“He’s intended to win with a purpose to run,” the president added. “Beto was once defeated.”
Mr. Trump’s discursive taste overjoyed his crowd, despite the fact that protesters heckled him extra steadily than at different rallies since he turned into president. After one protester was once escorted out of the sector to a refrain of boos from the gang, the president requested, “Is there anywhere that’s extra amusing to be than a Trump rally?”
Mr. Trump has insisted that El Paso was once an instance of why a wall is essential.
“Partitions paintings,” he mentioned, repeating his statement that the crime price went down in El Paso after the border wall was once constructed. “Due to a border wall with Mexico,” he mentioned, El Paso is “one in every of The united states’s most secure towns.”
Mr. O’Rourke debunked that declare on Friday in a long submit at the web site Medium, during which he additionally attempted to set out an alternate blueprint for overhauling the country’s immigration rules. El Paso’s good fortune, he mentioned, repudiated Mr. Trump’s name for a border wall.
“He’s going to promise a wall and can repeat his lies concerning the risks that immigrants pose,” Mr. O’Rourke mentioned of the president.
Mr. O’Rourke has spotlighted his closely Latino place of birth on Fb and on different social media websites for example of what works in immigration coverage.
A brief stroll from the coliseum, protesters accumulated to march in a display of dissent in opposition to the president. Many held indicators criticizing Mr. Trump; buttons, indicators and stickers proclaiming “Beto 2020” may well be noticed during the gang.
“Trump is an insult to my proud army circle of relatives,” mentioned Isabel Harris, 60, an immigrant from Mexico who held an indication honoring her son Martin Ferrufino, 32, a disabled veteran of the Iraq battle.
Ms. Harris mentioned Mr. Trump’s efforts to curb immigration was once an affront to her son, who crossed the border illegally as a kid. Later, he attended highschool in El Paso and joined the Military.
“My son sacrificed for this nation, and that is how he’s handled? How we’re handled?” Ms. Harris mentioned in Spanish.
Close by, two El Paso-born brothers, Adam and Andrew Peña, additionally joined the protest in opposition to Mr. Trump.
“Trump thinks he can rule us by way of worry,” mentioned Adam Peña, 31, a legal professional who lives in San Diego and traveled to El Paso to voice his opposition. “I’m right here to end up him mistaken.”
Mr. Trump were given the speculation to concentrate on El Paso from an change with the Texas lawyer basic, Ken Paxton, who instructed him the wall enormously diminished the town’s crime price and due to this fact served as a persuasive argument for construction one alongside extra of the southwestern border.
“After that fence went up and separated Juárez, which nonetheless has an especially prime crime price, the crime charges in El Paso at the moment are one of the vital lowest within the nation,” Mr. Paxton mentioned. “So we are aware of it works.”
Whilst it’s true that Juárez has a far upper crime price than El Paso — and whilst the fence did minimize down on unlawful crossings — the remainder of his commentary is, at highest, extremely deceptive.
The El Paso Occasions, which analyzed 3 many years of statistics from the F.B.I. and the native police, discovered that crime peaked in 1993, with greater than 6,500 violent crimes recorded. It then dropped by way of 34 % over the following 13 years.
The crime price then larger by way of 17 % from 2006 to 2011. Building of the wall started in 2008, below President George W. Bush, and was once finished in mid-2009, throughout the Obama management. Crime has ebbed and flowed inside of a moderately slim band since then.
Native officers, together with Mayor Dee Margo, a Republican, have spoken out in opposition to Mr. Trump’s claims. Consultant Veronica Escobar, a Democrat who not too long ago received Mr. O’Rourke’s former seat, has demanded that the president express regret and meet with migrant households looking for asylum in america. Amongst lawmakers who constitute border districts, there’s remarkably little strengthen for a wall.
But Mr. Trump has been undeterred. He repeated grisly tales of violent crimes dedicated by way of unlawful immigrants — by no means thoughts that the crime price amongst immigrants isn’t any upper than amongst native-born citizens. He mentioned a wall would stem the go with the flow of fatal opioids and different illicit medicine into america — some other doubtful statement, for the reason that maximum medicine arrive at prison ports of access.
Mr. Trump’s aides are looking to construct momentum after closing week’s State of the Union deal with, which they imagine was once neatly won by way of his political base. Not like a few of his predecessors, the president didn’t right away depart on a street travel to promote the messages within the deal with. However he has been keen to go back to rallies, which energize him and stuffed up his calendar earlier than the midterm elections.
Mr. Trump disregarded those that disputed his details concerning the wall, announcing the mayor of El Paso was once “filled with crap,” although he was once a Republican.
“Folks of El Paso,” he requested, “am I proper?”
Emily Cochrane and Katie Rogers contributed reporting from Washington.