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11 February 2019, 9:29 GMT
By Jane C. Timm
Days prior to Congress's deadline for a deal on border security, President Donald Trump will campaign in El Paso, Texas – the city he wrongly claimed last week to be a hotbed of crime before a wall was built.
"The border town of El Paso, Texas, had an extremely high number of violent crimes – one of the highest in the country and considered one of the most dangerous cities in our country," Trump said Tuesday in his State of the Union. "Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities."
But the statistics do not support him, even though he goes there on Monday to repeat his argument that walls work. According to law enforcement data, the city had low crime levels well before a border barrier was built between 2008 and mid-2009.
Violent crime has been falling in El Paso since the modern peak in 1993 and was at an all-time low before a fence was approved by the Congress in 2006. Violent crime signed during the construction of the border fence and after its completion, according to police data collected by the FBI.
Democratic officials immediately came into conflict with the photo Trump painted on Tuesday evening, and said the president used their city to justify a pointless and unnecessary wall.
"The facts are clear, although it is true that El Paso is one of the safest cities in the nation, it has never been considered" one of the nation's most dangerous cities ", & # 39 The city's sheriff, Richard Wiles, a Democrat, said in a statement after Trump closed his address. "And, El Paso was a safe city long before a wall was built."
The Republican mayor of the city, Dee Margo, also tried to correct the record.
"I believe he got some misinformation," Margo told Good King News in an interview, adding the notion that El Paso was a lawless and dangerous place before the fencing was built, is "not factually correct."
Margo said he would correct the president if he repeated lies about El Paso on Monday.
"The geography of Texas does not allow a fence from El Paso to Brownsville, even if you wanted to do it," Margo said.
Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, who represents El Paso, called the president's remarks about her district "disturbing" in an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" last week before Trump writing a letter asking him to apologize and correct the record.
"El Paso is and has always been a safe community – one of the safest in the country," she told MSNBC.
Escobar and former Rep. Beto O & # 39; Rourke, the democrat who held the chair for her who allegedly makes an offer for the president in 2020, will join an anti-wall march in the border town on Monday to counter the demonstration of Trump.
When the uncertainty of the President's claims was emphasized, the White House said that the high crime rate in the city directly across the border – Juarez – proved that the barrier was responsible for the low crime rate in El Paso.
"Well, you know, in Juarez, which is located across the border in Mexico, the number of murders has increased significantly, so the simple fact that you have a physical barrier in that place like us [do], that works and helps to keep the crime out of El Paso because crime has raised Juarez, "White House director for strategic communication Mercedes Schlapp told reporters last Wednesday.
El Paso currently enjoys relatively low crime: there were 19 murders and 1,819 heavily armed attacks in the city in 2017, according to data from the FBI crime. The murder rate of the city is about half that of the national average and a fraction of more dangerous cities. For example, in the city of Detroit with the same size, there were 267 murders and 10,193 heavily armed attacks.
"I've been here for 30 years and before the wall, after the wall, it's always been a safe city," Western District of Texas Federal Public Defender Maureen Franco told Good King News. "It often happens that people do not close their doors because of the perception and the reality that it is safe to live here."
What led to crime, if it was not a border wall?
Major changes in border security helped El Paso – it was simply not the fence that Trump is now greeting.
In 1993 Silvestre Reyes, head of customs and border protection, tried something new.
Operation "Hold the Line" has stationed 400 Border Patrol agents across the border and implemented new technologies, creating a powerhouse along the border that effectively seals a porous border.
The New York Times reported at that time that the effort put in thousands of people who crossed every day, the crime immediately began to fall and day laborers began to obtain permits to legally cross the border instead of crossing on foot. The newspaper also noted that Reyes was applauded for cleaning the city with limited force. Earlier, the Times reported, border agents had concentrated on arresting and detaining immigrants – and not simply putting them off – in a tactic that supported budgets. The operation collected little immediate praise, but a similar display of violence tactics was eventually implemented in other areas.
Franco told Good King News that from a humanitarian perspective, Operation Hold the Line also deterred unsafe crossings.
Nevertheless, in 2006 the Congress approved a further 700 miles border. El Paso had a fence of steel garden posts placed between 2008 and mid-2009.
"It did not affect us, apart from the fact that it reduced the kindl beauty "from El Paso, she said." There was no need for a wall. "
Reyes, a democrat, was later elected to represent the district in Congress. He served for 15 years until O & # 39; Rourke, now a potential participant from 2020, put him in the leading role of 2012.
Last week Reyes acknowledged in an interview with Good King News's El Paso partner KTSM that the border has changed considerably since he runs the El Paso sector, but he does not agree with the President's calls for a border wall.
"There are better ways to do it than to draw up the president's proposal," Reyes said in the interview.
Reyes, 74, said that technology and manpower are still the best way to guard the border. "Anyone who says this border is in crisis does not know what they're talking about."