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President Trump took his struggle over a border wall to the U.S.-Mexico border on Monday evening, promising a crowd in El Paso, Texas, that he would press ahead for its development regardless whilst information was breaking in Washington that a deal reached between congressional negotiators would fall far in need of his funding calls for.
And in a near-showdown that appeared to reflect the continuing political dispute over the border, Trump was greeted by a counter-rally led by former Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke. The previous Texas lawmaker failed final yr in his effort to unseat GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, however might parlay his newfound movie star with Democratic voters right into a 2020 bid to unseat the president — a White Home bid that would particularly problem Trump over immigration coverage, border safety and the propriety of constructing a Southern border wall.
However the greater menace to the message about the necessity to safe the border that Trump was attempting to ship was coming from many miles away. As one other partial authorities shutdown loomed, bipartisan negotiations on Capitol Hill emerged with a deal Monday evening for $1.375 billion for “bodily boundaries” on the border (the identical degree that was agreed to in final yr’s Division of Homeland Safety funding invoice). This can fund about 55 miles of fencing.
On stage, Trump claimed he did not know the main points and “did not wish to hear about it,” sticking to his strong speaking factors on the border wall anyway.
“As I used to be strolling as much as the stage, they mentioned that progress is being made with this committee. Simply so you realize, we’re constructing the wall anyway,” he mentioned to raucous applause, beneath banners that learn “End the Wall.”
Talking in an interview with Fox Information carried out on the sidelines of the rally, Trump recommended he did not know most of the specifics of the deal and mentioned “we’ll see what occurs.” About his push for a border wall, Trump mentioned his want for a bodily barrier is about security. “A wall is an excellent factor, not a foul factor. It is a ethical factor,” the president additionally mentioned within the interview.
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The Trump administration has regularly exaggerated about what number of new boundaries alongside the border are being constructed in comparison with these being repaired. And the number of a rally in El Paso was no accident both — Trump has usually highlighted the border metropolis as proof that partitions work, noting the low crime within the U.S. border city in comparison with its Mexican counterpart. Nevertheless, statistics have proven that violent crime had already dropped nicely earlier than the border wall was erected in El Paso.
Trump dismissed these information although, calling them “pretend information” and saying individuals are “stuffed with crap if they are saying it hasn’t made a distinction.”
The president additionally claimed that the 35-day partial authorities shutdown over the wall — the longest shutdown ever in U.S. historical past — “was an important factor we did” as a result of it turned consideration to the border disaster, even when it did trigger a “blip” in an increase in unemployment. A number of polls additionally confirmed most Individuals blamed Trump and Republicans for the shutdown, and his approval scores additionally dropped.
If Trump does not settle for the deal lawmakers will current to him this week, one other shutdown might start at simply after midnight Saturday — although Trump has additionally threatened to construct the wall by way of the declaration of a nationwide emergency if vital.
The entire rally largely caught to Trump’s ordinary speaking factors — ticking off financial successes, commerce offers, boasting about his relationship with North Korean chief Kim Jong Un and rehashing a lot of what he had mentioned final week in his State of the Union handle.
However Trump appeared particularly attuned to and many delicate concerning the split-screen picture of the rally O’Rourke, El Paso’s former congressman, was holding exterior within the closely Democratic metropolis. Exaggerating, as he is liable to do, about his crowd measurement, Trump claimed that O’Rourke had solely drawn 200 or 300 to his protest whereas they’d 35,000 individuals attempting to get into his.
“That could be the top of his presidential bid,” Trump mentioned, mocking O’Rourke as “a younger man who’s obtained little or no going for himself besides an amazing first identify.”
“He is purported to win with the intention to run,” the president jabbed. “Beto was defeated,” Trump mentioned referring to the race in opposition to Cruz, because the president boasted of his personal undefeated report in his first bid for elective workplace.
In response to NBC Information, O’Rourke’s workforce mentioned there have been about 7,000 individuals at his rally and mile-long march beforehand, per legislation enforcement. And Bloomberg Information reported that O’Rourke’s rally had been estimated at 10,000 to 15,000, in accordance with native police. At varied factors throughout his personal rally, Trump claimed that 69,000 individuals had RSVP’d and that fireplace marshals allowed 10,000 individuals in with “tens of 1000’s” nonetheless watching exterior. However NBC Information reported that Trump’s rally was at its 6,500 capability with 10,000 to 12,000 watching exterior or in overflow areas, per the native police and fireplace departments.
O’Rourke straight took on Trump over border safety and Trump’s want for a wall or different bodily barrier. The previous Democratic congressman mentioned El Paso was a peaceable and secure metropolis “as a result of we deal with each other with dignity and respect.”
“We all know that partitions don’t save lives; partitions finish lives,” O’Rourke additionally informed these gathered at his rally.
He additionally criticized the Trump administration’s therapy of immigrants, from separating kids from adults on the border to housing migrants in detention facilities, and only a normal vilification of the contributions of immigrants.
“We’re making a stand for fact in opposition to lies and hate and ignorance and intolerance,” the potential 2020 Democratic candidate mentioned. “We’re going to present the nation who we’re. We’ll make a stand to make sure that we dwell as much as our promise, to our potential, to our function as a rustic.”
“We won’t benefit from them,” O’Rourke added about immigrants. “We won’t ship them again to sure dying. We won’t consider that partitions can or ought to hold them out. As a substitute, we welcome them with open arms.”
Trump, in the meantime, at his rally painted a a lot darker picture concerning the attainable inflow of recent immigrants throughout the border, who he has characterised as bringing medication and crime. As a substitute, the president argued that individuals ought to be allowed into the nation primarily based on benefit.
“The Democrat Get together has by no means been extra exterior the mainstream. They’re turning into the celebration of socialism, late-term abortion, open borders and crime,” Trump mentioned. He criticized Democrats for wanting to place a cap on the mattress capability at detention services, saying that will be “slicing unfastened harmful criminals into our nation.”
“I’ll by no means signal a invoice that forces the mass launch of criminals into this nation,” Trump mentioned.