President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech got a lot of things wrong, but one of its biggest falsehoods was portraying El Paso, Texas, as one of the nation's "most dangerous cities" before a border wall with Mexico was erected a decade ago.
“The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the country, and [was] considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities. Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities,” Trump said.
El Paso was never one of the country’s “most dangerous” cities, according to federal crime data, and the city actually saw a drastic decline in crime long before a border fence was erected, in 2008. In fact, violent crimes fell by 34 percent between 1993 and 2006.
El Paso leaders and law enforcement officials reacted with fury to Trump’s comments about the city’s border fence.
"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 said after Trump’s speech Tuesday night. “El Paso was a safe city long before a wall was built. President Trump continues to give a false narrative."
El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, a Republican, reacted similarly and posted on Twitter that the city had never been one of the United States’ most dangerous.
“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,” he wrote.
Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Democrat, attended the State of the Union and had a simple rebuttal to Trump’s statement about El Paso crime: “He lies.”
The Trump administration has repeatedly pointed to El Paso’s border fence as an example of a barrier that works to curb immigration.
Cover: U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)