Standing within earshot distance of one another, President Trump and Beto O’Rourke held opposing rallies in El Paso, Texas, that clashed over immigration. Trump and his contingent of an estimated 6,500 chanted “Build the wall” and “U-S-A” over and over, while O’Rourke and an estimated 10,000 supporters called for a path to citizenship for those wanting to cross the border.
The settings for the rallies could not have been more different. While Trump spoke from inside a packed El Paso County Coliseum arena with a large U.S. flag and “Finish the Wall” signs perched on either side, O’Rourke spoke outside on a stage set up inside a baseball field with a mariachi band as his backdrop. The locations were separated by less than a half a mile, but the substance of each evinced emotions worlds apart.
“No president should ever have to go through what we’ve gone through in the first two years,” Trump said to his crowd. “It’s a hoax, it’s a disgrace and it should never be allowed to happen again.”
“But a young man who’s got very little going for himself, except he’s got a great first name, he is… he challenged us,” Trump continued in reference to O’Rourke. “So we have, let’s say 35,000 people tonight and he has 200 people, 300 people, not too good. In fact, what I’d do — what I would do is, I would say that may be the end of his presidential bid. But he did challenge us.”
Just last week Trump stated during the State of the Union that El Paso was one of the most dangerous cities in the country before border walls were built. He claimed that after the walls, crime went down.
“I’ve been here for about eight years … and before the wall was built people were afraid to come to El Paso,” said one Trump supporter. “They’re not so much anymore.”
But El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said Trump and his supporters have it all wrong about crime in the city. “No crisis exists,” El Paso officials said in a resolution in rebuke of Trump’s statements.
In fact, FBI numbers show that crime dropped 62 percent from 1993 to 2007, a year before construction of a fence took place in El Paso. The year after the fence’s construction, crime actually went up.
“With the eyes of the country upon us, all of us together are going to make our stand here in one of the safest cities in the United States of America, safe not because of walls but in spite of walls,” O’Rourke said as thousands of supporters of all ages watched intently. “We stand for America and we stand against walls.”
Aside from small verbal arguments and a couple of shoving altercations, the crowds for both rallies remained under control. While one side of the debate remains convicted in its belief that the Texas city that borders Juarez, Mexico, is closing in on a national emergency on immigration, the other says El Paso represents everything that makes America great.
“As a community we are collectively telling [Trump] in his face that we don’t like your lies,” said a Trump protestor. “We don’t like your policies, and we don’t want your wall.”