Donald Trump uses El Paso rally to make his case for border wall funding

EL PASO — President Donald Trump on Monday took a jab at El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, saying he was “full of crap” if he did not believe border fencing made the city safer.

“When that wall went up, it was a whole different ballgame,” Trump said, referring to fencing along the El Paso border with Mexico. “I don’t care if a mayor is a Republican or a Democrat. They are full of crap if they say it doesn’t make a difference.”

Margo, a Republican, has disputed Trump’s State of the Union claim that El Paso was among the most dangerous cities in the country before border fencing was installed.

“My job as mayor is to represent El Paso factually and with integrity, correcting any misstatements negatively reflecting on our community,” Margo told the El Paso Times after the president spoke. He later tweeted the same statement. “I don’t focus on political rhetoric, only facts so that my statements will never be questioned.”

Trump’s statements have been widely disputed by city leaders and multiple fact checks, including one by the El Paso Times.

Some form of barrier has existed between El Paso and Juárez for decades, whether it was a chain-link fence at different stretches of the border or the more substantial barrier that stands today.

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, violent crime in El Paso fell dramatically between 1993 and 2006. From 2006 to 2011 — two years before the fence was built to two years after — the number of recorded violent crimes in El Paso increased by 17 percent, the reports say. The figures were below the average for large U.S. cities. 

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke held a dueling rally near the El Paso County Coliseum, where Trump spoke to 6,500 people inside and several thousand outside. 

O’Rourke’s rally drew a crowd that organizers estimate to be between 6,000 and 7,000. Official estimates were not provided by police.

“With the eyes of the country upon us, all of us together are going to make our stand,” O’Rourke told the crowd of several thousand at his rally. “Here in one of the safest cities in the USA. Safe not because of walls but in spite of walls.”

The Democrat, who is contemplating entering the 2020 presidential election, decried the Republican president’s hard-line rhetoric on immigration that has become the centerpiece of his administration.

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