Border residents speak out ahead of Trump’s visit

Posted at 8:55 AM, Jan 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-10 09:55:24-05

President Donald Trump is traveling to McAllen today to make his case for a border wall.

McAllen sits right on the U.S.- Mexico border in a region with the most illegal crossings in the country.

Mayor Jim Darling said the he does not feel like the wall is the answer to the country’s immigration problem and feels as if the real crisis is not in the USA.

“The crisis is really over for them when they hit the border and can seek asylum,” Darling said. “The crisis for them is in their home countries and on the journey through Mexico.”

Since 2014, Darling says McAllen has been the epicenter of the border debate. It is where the tens of thousands of undocumented families apprehended in the region are released with future immigration court dates.

After their release, the legal asylum-seekers make their was to Sister Norma Pimentel’s Humanitarian Respite Center.

“This is a man-made crisis…I would hope that the president sees the real issue down here,” Pimentel, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, said.

As an opponent of Trump’s border barrier, she’s among the majority in the predominantly democratic region of a red state.

But, just upriver from McAllen, Ruperto Escobar not only supports building Trump’s barrier, but says he would welcome it cutting through his 600 acre ranch.

“Nothing has changed, other than POTUS not being able to find a way to get it done,” Escobar said.

For Escobar, it’s about securing the rugged South Texas ranch land that has been in his family since 1767.

He says he has seen the influx of people crossing illegally firsthand.

“One night, two armed men on my property, they stopped my men from going past the gate, told them to turn around,” Escobar said. “They were going to smuggle drugs or humans, I don’t know, I didn’t get check it out, that’s not my job, that’s my government’s job to secure our borders.”

Escobar believes the wall is a solution to the problem.

Mayor Darling says that given the vast majority of people coming across the border are seeking asylum, there is no simple solution.

“It’s a very complicated process, the problem is it’s gotten politicized into just a wall but it’s more complicated than that. It’s foreign policy, it’s etc. Etc.,” Darling said.

After stopping in McAllen today, Trump will head to the Rio Grande River which marks the border between the United States and Mexico.