- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 6, 2019

President Trump will host a “Make America Great Again” rally Monday in El Paso, the Texas border town rocked by his State of the Union speech.

In the big speech, Mr. Trump pointed to El Paso as proof that walls work, saying a border fence tamed a city that used to be one of the country’s most dangerous places.

“Now, immediately upon its building, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of the safest cities in our country,” the president said.

The comment riled El Paso residents.

El Paso Sheriff Richard Wiles, a Democrat, told NBC that the president used “falsehoods” to “justify the building of a 2,000-mile wall.”

“El Paso was a safe city long before any wall was built. President Trump continues to give a false narrative about a great city that truly represents what this great nation is all about,” the sheriff said.

A fact check by the El Paso Times found that the crime rate was decreasing in the city before the border fence, as crime rates fell nationwide from the high levels of the 1990s.

After a dramatic decline in violent crime from 1993 to 2006, crime began to tick up until 2011, according to FBI data cited by the newspaper.

The fence was constructed in 2008 and 2009.

El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, a Republican, blasted Mr. Trump’s characterization of the city, though he credited the border fence with reducing crime.

“El Paso was NEVER one of the MOST dangerous cities in the US. We’ve had a fence for 10 years and it has impacted illegal immigration and curbed criminal activity,” the mayor tweeted. “It is NOT the sole deterrent. Law enforcement in our community continues to keep us safe.”

Monday’s event will be Mr. Trump’s seventh rally in Texas.

Michael Glassner, CEO of the Trump campaign, said El Paso was the perfect setting for a rally during the president’s border wall fight with Congress.

“As the president continues his fight to secure our border, there’s no better place to demonstrate that walls work than in El Paso,” he said. “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.”

The rally at El Paso County Coliseum also takes Mr. Trump into the hometown of potential 2020 contender, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who became a Democratic Party star in his unsuccessful but extremely close race for the U.S. Senate.

Mr. O’Rourke said Tuesday that he will make a decision by the end of the month about joining a crowded field seeking the Democratic nomination.

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