President Donald Trump is holding his first rally of the year in El Paso, Texas on Monday, but after making false statements about the city’s crime rates during the 2019 State of the Union, he’s bound to face some opposition.
Trump in a Monday morning tweet promised a “Big speech on Border Security and much else tonight. Tremendous crowd! See you later!”
However, Beto O’Rourke—the former Texas congressman who made waves during the 2018 midterms for nearly defeating incumbent Ted Cruz in the race for Senate—is expected to speak out against Trump’s border wall at an opposition rally near the president’s gathering, Reuters reports.
Citing false information he heard from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton during a January meeting, Trump claimed during his Feb. 5 address that El Paso was “considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities” prior to the 2009 construction of a border wall.
“Now, immediately upon its building, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of the safest cities in our country,” Trump said. “Simply put, walls work and walls save lives.”
In reality, federal crime data shows that El Paso was one of the safest large cities in the U.S. in the years leading up to wall construction. The city’s violent crime rate actually peaked in 1993 and has been dropping fairly steadily since then.
El Paso Mayor Dee Margo negated Trump’s statements on the night of his address, tweeting that border fencing is “NOT the sole deterrent” of crime.
O’Rourke, a potential 2020 candidate, has been promoting the opposition rally online since the days after Trump’s address.
“We need everyone to join us tomorrow evening in El Paso as we celebrate our community,” O’Rourke, a longtime resident of El Paso, tweeted Sunday. “The country will be watching, and it falls on all of us to tell the true story about the border.”
In an earlier Medium post, O’Rourke criticized historically aggressive actions by U.S. presidents that may have led to or exasperated the immigration issues the country faces today. He also outlined a ten-point immigration plan and argued in defense of comprehensive immigration policy.
“Monday we will welcome the President to one of the safest cities in the United States. Safe not because of walls, and not in spite of the fact that we are a city of immigrants. Safe because we are a city of immigrants and because we treat each other with dignity and respect,” O’Rourke wrote.
Meanwhile, Congress is working to reach a bipartisan border security deal by Feb.15 in order to prevent a second government shutdown.