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President Trump led his battle along a border wall on the US-Mexico border Monday night, promising a crowd in El Paso, Texas, that would put pressure on its construction, even if the news was breaking an agreement reached between Congress negotiators in Washington would be far less than its funding requests.
And in a close encounter that seemed to mirror the political dispute underway on the border, Trump was greeted by a counterrevolution led by former Democratic Republican Texas Beto O & Rourke. The former Texas lawmaker failed last year in an attempt to oust Senator Ged Ted Cruz, but he could parlay his new celebrity with Democratic voters in a 2020 attempt to oust the president – a White House offer that could in particular challenge Trump on immigration policy, security border and property to build a southern border wall.
But the biggest threat to the message about the need to protect the border that Trump was trying to deliver came from many miles away. While another partial shutdown of the government loomed, the bipartisan negotiations on Capitol Hill emerged with an agreement on Monday night for $ 1.375 billion of "physical barriers" at the border (the same level agreed in the last year's draft of the Department for National Security). This will finance about 55 miles of fencing.
On stage, Trump claimed he did not know the details and "did not want to hear about it", while still sticking to his robust discussion points on the border wall.
"As I was going onstage, they said that progress is being made with this committee, just so you know, we're building the wall anyway," he said to a hoarse applause, under the banners saying "End the wall."
Speaking in an interview with Fox News conducted on the sidelines of the event, Trump suggested he did not know many of the specifics of the deal and said "we'll see what happens". On his push for a boundary wall, Trump said his desire for a physical barrier is about security. "A wall is a very good thing, not a bad thing, it's a moral thing," the president also said in the interview.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images
The Trump administration has often exaggerated over how many new barriers along the border are under construction compared to those being repaired. And the choice of a demonstration in El Paso was not accidental: Trump often highlighted the border town as a testament to the functioning of the walls, noting the low crime in the US border town compared to its Mexican counterpart. However, statistics showed that violent crime had already fallen long before the border wall was erected in El Paso.
Trump has however rejected these facts, calling them "false news" and saying that people are "full of shit if they say they did not make a difference".
The president also said that the 35-day partial shutdown of the government on the wall – the longest ever shutdown in US history – "was a very important thing we did" because he turned his attention to the border crisis, even if it caused a "blip" in an increase in unemployment. More polls have also shown that most Americans accused Trump and Republicans of closing the session, and even his approval votes have declined.
If Trump does not agree that the legislators will present him this week, another closure could begin soon after Saturday midnight – although Trump also threatened to build the wall by declaring a national emergency, if necessary.
The entire rally has largely adhered to the usual points of discussion of Trump – marking economic successes, trade agreements, boasting of his relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and re-launching much of what he had said last week in his speech on the State of the Union.
Rudy Gutierrez / AP
But Trump seemed particularly sensitive and very sensitive to the split-screen image of the rally O & # 39; Rourke, the former member of the El Paso Congress, was holding out in the highly democratic city. Exaggerating, as he is inclined to do, the size of his audience, Trump claimed that O & Rourke had only pulled 200 or 300 to his protest while they had 35,000 people trying to get into his own.
"It could be the end of his presidential candidacy," said Trump, teasing O & # 39; Rourke as "a young man who has very little to do for himself except a big name".
"It is supposed that he will win to run," said the president. "Beto was defeated," Trump said referring to the game against Cruz, as the president boasted of his record undefeated in his first electoral position.
According to NBC News the team of O & # 39; Rourke said that there were about 7000 people at his rally and a march of millet in advance for forces of the # 39; order. And Bloomberg News reported that the demonstration of O & # 39; Rourke had been estimated at between 10,000 and 15,000, according to local police. At various points during his rally, Trump claimed that 69,000 people had RSVP and that firefighters allowed 10,000 people "tens of thousands" to look out. But NBC News reported that the Trump rally was at its capacity of 6,500 with 10,000 to 12,000 looking out or in overflow areas, for local police and firefighters.
O & # 39; Rourke directly hired Trump on border security and Trump's desire for a wall or other physical barrier. The former Democrat MP claimed that El Paso was a peaceful and secure city "because we treat each other with dignity and respect".
"We know that walls do not save lives, walls end life," said O Rourke to those present at his rally.
He also criticized the trumped-up treatment of immigrants by the Trump administration, from the separation of children from adults to the borders to the housing of migrants in detention centers, and only a general defamation of the contributions of immigrants.
"We are taking a stand against the truth against lies and hatred, ignorance and intolerance," said the potential Democratic candidate of 2020. "We are going to show to the country who we are, we will take a position to ensure that we keep our promise, our potential, our goal as a country ".
"We will not take advantage of them", added O & # 39; Rourke on immigrants. "We will not return them to certain death, we do not believe that walls can or should keep them out, but we welcome them with open arms".
Rudy Gutierrez / AP
Trump, meanwhile, at his rally has painted a much darker picture of the possible influx of new immigrants across the border, which he characterized as drugs and crime. Instead, the president argued that people should be admitted to the country on merit.
"The Democratic Party has never been more outside the mainstream, it is becoming the party of socialism, indefinite abortion, open borders and crime," Trump said. He criticized the Democrats for wanting to put a cap on the capacity of the bed in detention facilities, saying it would be "the loss of dangerous criminals in our country".
"I will never sign a bill that will force the mass liberation of criminals in this country," Trump said.