El Pasoans and Fronterizos / by Karie Luidens


First thing I did this morning, upon waking up in a motel room on the east side of El Paso: go buy a copy of the El Paso Times. I don’t normally spring for daily newspapers, but I was in a border city the day after Trump declared the border a national emergency. I had to see what the locals were saying.

The top headline came in question form: “Where will Trump find $8 billion?” Below that, still above the fold: “El Paso leaders blast Trump.”

El Paso leaders blast Trump

Emergency declaration called ‘dangerous’
Madlin Mekelburg and María Cortés González
El Paso Times
Saturday, February 16, 2019

El Paso leaders and immigrant rights groups Friday [2/15/19] criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency to pay for the border wall, saying no such crisis exists and vowing to fight the order in court.

Here’s a sampling of what those leaders said in the body of the article, which spilled onto 4A and took up three quarters of that page, too:

  • U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D, District 16): “El Pasoans and fronterizos across the country know that there is no national emergency. Instead, this administration has manufactured a crisis that has used their communities as ground zero to implement President Trump’s cruel policies towards immigrants and asylum-seeking children and families.”

  • U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R, District 23): “What we should be talking about is the strategy on how we defend our border, not one specific tool, which is the wall. And I’ve been very clear. Building a 30-foot-high concrete structure from sea to shining sea is the most expensive and least effective way to do border security.”

  • State Rep. César Blanco (D, District 76): “Trump’s national emergency declaration for his border wall is dangerous and radical. There is no national security crisis on the border. The only crisis we have is a humanitarian crisis.”

  • State Sen. José Rodríguez (D, District 29): “El Pasoans know the reality of the border firsthand. While I, and, frankly, the government's own security agencies categorically reject the notion that the border poses an unmet national security threat, we also all recognize the very real issue of smuggling of people and contraband that must be met with smart, focused law enforcement and adequate judiciary. El Paso meets this challenge every day without demonizing immigrants or border communities.”

  • U.S. Catholic bishops, including El Paso Bishop Mark J. Seitz and leaders from other dioceses such as Laredo, TX, Las Cruces, NM, and Tucson, AZ: “As Catholic bishops of dioceses along the US-Mexico border, joined by some of our brother bishops across the nation, we oppose further construction of a border wall.” Their statement went on to say that the wall would only further subject asylum seekers to “harm by drug cartels, smugglers, and human traffickers,” and force them into remote regions that would put them at greater risk of death. The bishops said that “we oppose the declaration of a national emergency and the transfer of funds to construct a border wall” and instead urge more humanitarian ways of dealing with immigration.