It’s Trump vs. Beto in border wall showdown

Beto O'Rourke

Beto O’Rourke mentioned he doesn’t interpret President Donald Trump’s go to to El Paso as a private problem to him, however slightly as “an effort to make use of this group as a prop to make his case for the border wall.” | Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images


The president is ready to rally within the hometown of his doubtless 2020 rival — and O’Rourke plans to hit again at a protest of his personal.

EL PASO, Texas — The showdown between Donald Trump and Beto O’Rourke over the president’s border wall is about to get actual.

The president was en path to O’Rourke’s hometown Monday for a marketing campaign rally touting his long-sought. But O’Rourke is ready to headline a counter-rally at a sports activities complicated throughout the road, setting the stage for the primary in-person conflict of 2020 between Trump and a possible Democratic rival.

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Lambasting what he known as “the president’s lies about our group, in regards to the U.S.-Mexico border, about immigrants, about Mexicans,” O’Rourke mentioned on a convention name with reporters Monday, “All of this may discover its match in El Paso, and never from anyone individual, however from all of us.”

El Paso, he added, is the “instance that the nation wants proper now.”

The call-and-response in Washington and West Texas crystallized the partisan battle over immigration even earlier than Trump landed on this border metropolis. Staring down a possible second authorities shutdown over border safety, Trump picked this closely Democratic and Latino area to redouble his name for a border wall, a difficulty that propelled him to the presidency and stays on the heart of his reelection marketing campaign.

“Will be heading to El Paso very quickly,” Trump mentioned on Twitter forward of his arrival right here on Monday night time. “Big speech on Border Security and far else tonight. Tremendous crowd! See you later!”

O’Rourke mentioned he doesn’t interpret Trump’s go to as a private problem to him, however slightly as “an effort to make use of this group as a prop to make his case for the border wall.”

Yet when Trump touches down right here, it’ll mark probably the most direct, real-time conflict but between Trump and a 2020 Democratic contender. O’Rourke, a former congressman, would be a part of the highest tier of Democratic presidential candidates if he decides to run.

The location of the dueling rallies appeared destined to inflame controversy. A metropolis of about 680,000 individuals, El Paso is a Democratic oasis in a closely Republican state — nearer geographically to the California state line than to San Antonio or Houston. More than 80 % of the inhabitants in El Paso County is Hispanic, and Trump is so deeply unpopular right here that in 2016, he gained simply 26 % of the county’s vote.

O’Rourke, in the meantime, has made immigration a central a part of his platform following his closer-than-expected loss to Republican Ted Cruz in final 12 months’s Texas Senate race. Before the counter-rally in opposition to Trump, O’Rourke drew publicity for strolling throughout the border type El Paso to Juarez to fulfill with asylum seekers and for visiting a detention camp for migrant kids at Tornillo. On Christmas Eve, he was photographed passing out pizza slices to immigrant kids in El Paso.

“The President, utilizing the identical racist, inflammatory rhetoric of years previous, seeks to construct a wall, to take children from their dad and mom, to deploy the United States Army on American soil, to proceed mass deportations and to finish the safety for Dreamers,” O’Rourke wrote on his on-line journal on Medium forward of Trump’s go to. “In different phrases, he seeks in a single administration to repeat all of the errors of the final half-century. And with previous as prologue, we all know precisely how that may finish.”

Trump is underneath strain throughout the political spectrum on immigration. His base is demanding cash for a border wall, in fact. But a majority of voters oppose shutting the federal government down once more to drive Congress to acceptable cash for a wall, based on latest polls. And declaring a nationwide emergency isn’t any fast repair for Trump; the thought lacks broad help.

Trump has dismissed O’Rourke as a “complete light-weight,” saying in December that “I assumed you have been speculated to win earlier than you run for president.” But his singling out of El Paso — first in his State of the Union tackle, after which on Monday — solely elevated consideration on the previous congressman and his metropolis.

“The border metropolis of El Paso, Texas used to have extraordinarily excessive charges of violent crime — one of many highest in your entire nation, and thought of one in every of our nation’s most harmful cities,” Trump mentioned in his State of the Union tackle. “Now, instantly upon its constructing, with a robust barrier in place, El Paso is without doubt one of the most secure cities in our nation. Simply put: Walls work, and partitions save lives.”

Trump’s declare that El Paso was once one of many nation’s most harmful cities earlier than erecting a barrier has been broadly discredited. El Paso has lengthy loved a violent crime price decrease than the nationwide common for cities of comparable dimension, based on PolitiFact, the political fact-checking web site. “Even extra, the violent crime price went up — not down, as Trump claimed — after the development of a border fence within the area,” the positioning discovered.

The El Paso Times, in its personal evaluation, got here to an identical conclusion after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton instructed Trump earlier this 12 months {that a} fence had lowered crime in El Paso.

Preparing for Trump’s go to, native officers in El Paso gathered at a authorities constructing downtown on Monday afternoon to decry Trump’s characterization of lawlessness in El Paso earlier than the development of a fence.

Joining a couple of dozen native leaders at a press convention, El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza mentioned fencing alongside the border right here “made actually no distinction somehow.”

Veronica Escobar, the Democrat elected to succeed O’Rourke within the House, mentioned El Paso residents have been decided to appropriate the “misinformation that the president has put out.”

“For many people, being a resident of the border is one thing that we’re very happy with,” she mentioned. “For many people, that is private, as a result of it’s an assault on our id, it’s an assault on our historical past, it’s an assault on our households.”

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