Beto O'Rourke will lead a protest march outside President Donald Trump's first 2020 campaign rally Monday evening in El Paso, Texas. O'Rourke plans to protest the president's push for a border wall.
"The President is coming to El Paso Monday," O'Rourke wrote on Medium Friday. "He will promise a wall and will repeat his lies about the dangers that immigrants pose."
The former U.S. congressman also plans to deliver a speech not far from the Trump event and at about the same time the president takes the stage, according to the Texas Tribune. The protest has been dubbed, "March for Truth: Stop the Wall, Stop the Lies."
"Our government built a border fence in El Paso in 2008, a misguided response to 9/11 (no terrorists have crossed the southern border and attacked this country). It didn't make us any safer. In fact crime in El Paso increased after it was built," O'Rourke tweeted Wednesday.
The Democrat and some El Paso city leaders have taken issue with Trump's claims that a wall helped to make the border city one of the safest in the nation.
O'Rourke has teamed up with dozens of organizations, including Women's March El Paso, Border Network for Human Rights, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, El Paso Democratic Party, ACLU Border Rights, and Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee for the protest in his hometown.
What did Trump say about the El Paso wall?
"The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our nation's most dangerous cities," Trump said during his State of the Union address on Feb. 5. "Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities."
What did El Paso leaders say?
El Paso Sheriff Richard Wiles called Trump's claim an attempt to justify building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
"It is sad to hear President Trump state falsehoods about El Paso, Texas, in an attempt to justify the building of a 2,000-mile wall," El Paso Sheriff Richard Wiles told ABC News following the SOTU address. "While it is true that El Paso is one of the safest cities in the nation, it has never been considered one of our nation's most dangerous cities. And El Paso was a safe city long before any wall was built."
"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. It is NOT the sole deterrent. Law enforcement in our community continues to keep us safe," El Paso Mayor Dee Margo tweeted.
State Rep. Veronica Escobar (D) wrote a letter to Trump calling for him to "correct the record and apologize to El Pasoans" for the remark.
"This is erroneous, the fact is that from 1993 to 2007, the violent crime rate in El Paso dropped 62 percent, and from 2005-2007, El Paso consistently held the third lowest crime rate among 35 U.S. cities with a population over 500,000," Escobar wrote in the letter.
"The remarks that the president made during the State of the Union were stated originally, almost verbatim, by our our attorney general [Ken Paxton] some weeks ago and that's where the erroneous comments came from that were not correct," Margo told CNN in an interview over the weekend.
Margo went on to add that a border wall is "part of the process for border security, but it's not the total panacea."
O'Rourke, the Democrat who lost his 2018 bid for Ted Cruz's seat in the Senate, has not decided if he plans to jump into the 2020 presidential race. He has promised a decision by the end of the month.
The Trump rally is scheduled for 7 p.m. local time at the El Paso County Coliseum in El Paso.