President Donald Trump's campaign announced Wednesday morning that he will hold a rally Feb. 11 in El Paso. The news came just hours after the president's State of the Union speech, in which he reiterated a repeatedly debunked claim that El Paso was one of the country's most dangerous cities until the Secure Fence Act of 2006 was passed and several miles of barriers were built in the border city.
“As the President continues his fight to secure our border, there’s no better place to demonstrate that walls work than in El Paso,” Michael Glassner, the chief operating officer of the president's campaign, said in a statement. “President Trump looks forward to visiting with the patriots of Texas who are on the front lines of the struggle against open border Democrats who allow drugs, crime, and sex trafficking all along our border every day.”
Trump repeatedly railed against the border city Tuesday evening, saying El Paso and San Diego were dens of violent crime until fences were built in those communities. His comments drew ire from several prominent Democrats who quickly jumped to the cities' defense.
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio said Trump “paints a very scary and unfair picture of our border cities, particularly in Texas ... but the people of Texas know that the president is lying, that these are wonderful places, that they're safe cities.
“I think even [Texas U.S. Sens.] John Cornyn and Ted Cruz would tell you that, and if they wouldn't, then I dare them to go to those places and say differently,” Castro added.
A fact check of the president’s speech published Tuesday by the El Paso Times noted that violent crime in the border city peaked in 1993, then fell by more than 30 percent between that year and 2006. Construction of the barrier in El Paso didn’t begin until 2008, the Times reported. El Paso’s crime rate has continued to drop in the years since, from 457 crimes for every 100,000 residents in 2009 to 393 in 2014, according to FBI statistics.
Trump will host the rally, which is set for Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. Mountain Time at the El Paso County Coliseum. It will be his seventh rally in Texas and his first in El Paso since he began his race for president in June 2015, according to a news release.
State Rep. Cesar Blanco, D-El Paso, whose district includes the location where the rally will be, blasted the event as “a slap in the face to our community.”
“[Trump's] fearmongering and lies have hurt our border economy and community — one of the safest cities in America, even before the wall,” Blanco said in an emailed statement.
El Paso is also the home of Beto O'Rourke, the former Democratic congressman and U.S. Senate nominee who is considering a presidential run. On Tuesday, O'Rourke said he will make a decision by the end of the month.