El Paso Mayor: Barrier Is Part of Strategy, But Relationship With Mexico Stretches Over 400 Years

Alan Scaia
February 12, 2019 - 12:15 pm
Dee Margo

USA Today

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EL PASO (KRLD) - The mayor of El Paso says Monday's visit from the president and protestors can highlight how the city has kept a low crime rate even as the population has grown. Dee Margo has said the president's claim that El Paso was unsafe prior to construction of a barrier along the Rio Grande is false.

"Our relationship with Mexico, which transcends borders for all intents and purposes, has family on both sides and commerce on both sides," Margo says. "It's been this way for almost 400 years."

Violent crime in El Paso had dropped 34 percent from its peak in 1993 to the beginning of construction on the current barrier. Margo says the barrier plays a role in security, but the fence is not the sole reason El Paso has one of the lowest crime rates of any city in the country.

"It's not the panacea. It never has been," he says. "It is part of the strategy for control of your borders."

Margo says a drop in auto theft followed the construction of the current barrier.

Margo says El Paso and Juarez depend on each other for trade. He says 23,000 people walk across the international bridges into El Paso legally every day; 21 million cars pass through the ports each year.

El Paso is currently the 11th biggest exporter of goods in the country, behind San Francisco.

"El Paso is the intersection of three states: Texas, Chihuahua and New Mexico. It's two countries: the US and Mexico, and it's a region of 2.5 million people," he says.

The president arrived in El Paso just after 6 pm and left after the rally, about two and a half hours later. He returned to Washington, D.C. just after 2 am.

Margo says he would have preferred Donald Trump to stay to see more of how the area works together.

"I've said on numerous occasions to political leaders, 'If you want to understand the border, if you want to understand commerce, if you want to understand migration, come to El Paso.' Historically, they do not," he says. "To get him out here was a positive. To have him not stay was disappointing."