President Trump has scheduled a rally in El Paso, which he has used as an example of the security a border wall can bring. But many city officials don’t agree.
EL PASO — Ahead of President Trump’s scheduled rally in this West Texas city aimed at building support for his proposed wall on the border with Mexico, people from across the ideological spectrum in El Paso had a message for him on Sunday: Don’t speak for us.
“The president is just wrong about the wall and wrong about El Paso,” said Jon Barela, a lifelong Republican and chief executive of the Borderplex Alliance, an organization promoting economic development in a cross-border industrial hub with a combined population of more than 2.7 million, taking in the cities of El Paso, Ciudad Juárez and Las Cruces.
Mr. Barela disputed Mr. Trump’s widely discredited assertion that border fencing had cut violent crime in El Paso, pointing to F. B. I. data showing that the city has ranked for decades among the safest urban areas its size in the United States — long before American authorities started building some fencing along the border about a decade ago.
“As a fiscally conservative Republican, I just don’t understand how spending $25 billion on a wall with limited effectiveness is a good idea,” Mr. Barela said in an interview. “Mexico is an economic and strategic ally of the United States, and an antiquated effort to place a barrier between us just won’t work.”
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Dee Margo, the Republican mayor of El Paso, voiced similar criticism of Mr. Trump’s description of El Paso, in his State of the Union address, as “one of the nation’s most dangerous cities” before the barrier went up on the border. Representative Veronica Escobar, a Democrat recently elected to Congress to represent El Paso, is asking Mr. Trump to apologize and meet with migrant families seeking asylum in the United States.
The tension surrounding Mr. Trump’s planned visit to El Paso on Monday is revealing political fissures. A Democratic bastion in a state where Republicans have long wielded dominance in statewide politics, El Paso is also home to Beto O’Rourke, the former local congressman who is a star of the Democratic Party and a potential challenger to Mr. Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
At the same time Mr. Trump is scheduled to speak before about 6,000 people at the El Paso County Coliseum, Mr. O’Rourke will speak at another rally a mile away. Mr. O’Rourke said in an essay on Medium that Mr. Trump “will promise a wall and will repeat his lies about the dangers that immigrants pose.”
El Paso, where Hispanics account for about 80 percent of the population, was already hostile ground for Mr. Trump. In the 2016 election, he took only about 26 percent of the vote in El Paso County.

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