Who won the battle for the hearts of El Paso (Thu Feb, 12) President Trump or local Beto O’Rourke?

Geoffrey Wright, lives in El Paso, Tx

This is really provocative stuff from a man on the scene in El Paso where the wall crisis was trumpeted by trump.~   FLS BLOGGER

By casual (non-scientific) observation, based on television and social media reports, not first-hand verification, it appears that the crowds at each of the rallies (Trump v. O’Rourke) were comparable in size.

Among my associates and friends, it is considered common knowledge that claims of a “crisis at the border” Are unfounded, on the American side at least. The border fence does seem to have had an effect in stopping petty crimes in El Paso by desperate people from the Mexican side from availing themselves of the personal property of Paseños (citizens of El Paso). Also the murder rates of the sister cities of El Paso and Juárez are noticeably different with Juárez having about 90 times more homocides than El Paso over the past 3 years despite having only about twice the population. El Paso has regularly ranked as one of the safest large cities in the US for several years running.

Its safety is actually not attributable to the fence but came about in the ‘90s when the border patrol incredibly began for the first time to station agents along the Rio Grande to discourage Mexicans from wading over the shallow river unimpeded. This was the “hold the line” policy of the local border patrol chief Silvestre Reyes who was later elected congressman from El Paso (and after several terms defeated by Beto O’Rourke). Prior to that time the policy had been not to enforce the border but to let everyone cross more or less freely and then try to pick up undocumented Mexican citizens off the streets of El Paso. The fence (wall) was installed later, and then further reinforced around 2006 under the George W Bush administration.

El Paso is overwhelmingly Hispanic with over 80% of Latin heritage. I have heard it said that 70% of El Pasoans speak Spanish at home. Most of our population is bi-lingual. It is a peaceful city of immigrants. Many of us are offended by the characterization of our peaceful borderland being crime-ridden. Nothing could be farther than the truth.

It is the case, however, that the cordial relationship between our sister cities Juárez/El Paso of my youth is gone forever. That went by the wayside largely due to NAFTA which drew thousands of rural poorly prepared Mexicans to Juárez factories looking for a better opportunity. They landed squarely on the US border, most with lack of education and with a ring-side seat to the land of opportunity.

Gone are the days when we El Pasoans could drive across the river for a fantastic lunch, dinner, or shopping. 911 magnified the separation. It can take up to two hours to cross the border now, depending on the hour and day.

As a resident of 60 years, I love living in El Paso. I only wish the sharing and conviviality we once enjoyed with our sister city of Ciudad Juárez were still possible.

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