- Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke has joined Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar in calling for President Donald Trump to stay away from the city in the wake of Saturday’s mass shooting targeting its Hispanic community.
- “This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday’s tragedy possible, should not come to El Paso. We do not need more division. We need to heal. He has no place here,” tweeted O’Rourke.
- El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, a Republican, said he considered inviting the president to be his “formal duty,” and that there had been an immediate backlash.
- Democrats and experts on extremism have accused Trump of helping to foster the toxic ideology that investigators believe may have motivated Saturday’s killer.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
El Paso lawmakers and presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke are telling President Trump to stay away from their city in the wake of a mass shooting Saturday targeting the city’s Hispanic community that left 22 people dead.
O’Rourke, who represented El Paso’s congressional district before launching his presidential bid, wrote in a tweet that the president bore responsibility for Saturday’s killing.
“This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday’s tragedy possible, should not come to El Paso. We do not need more division. We need to heal. He has no place here,” tweeted O’Rourke.
O’Rourke has been among the most vocal critics of the president in the wake the attack, drawing a direct line between the president’s rhetoric and policies and Saturday’s atrocity.
In an interview on CNN on Sunday, he said that he believed Trump is a white nationalist, citing his incendiary rhetoric on refugees and asylum seekers.
“We have a problem with white nationalist terrorism in the United States of America today,” O’Rourke said, adding that “these are white men motivated by the kind of fear that this President traffics in.”
This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday's tragedy possible, should not come to El Paso. We do not need more division. We need to heal. He has no place here.
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) August 5, 2019
El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, who is a Republican, announced Trump’s visit in remarks to reporters Monday, calling the invitation his “formal duty.”
“And I want to clarify for the political spin that this is the office of the mayor of El Paso in an official capacity welcoming the office of the President of the United States, which I consider is my formal duty.”
He said he anticipated a backlash, adding: “I’m already getting the emails and the phone calls.”
Lawmakers in the Democrat-leaning Latino-majority city told VICE NEWS that the president’s migration policies placed a serious strain on its resources, which was now reeling from the impact of the anti-migrant hatred they have accused him of fostering.
“I call our governor, I call on our senators to send a message to our president and ask him not to set foot in El Paso,” David Stout, a Democratic commissioner in the border city, told the outlet.
“It would just put salt on this wound.”
Residents also expressed their anger at the president’s words and policies. “We were safe until he started talking,” John Smith-Davis, 47, a retired Army veteran, told the LA Times.
“He made us a target with his hateful rhetoric.”
In an interview with MSNBC, O’Rourke’s replacement as representative of Texas’ 16th congressional district, Rep. Veronica Escobar, had told the president to stay away.
“From my perspective, he is not welcome here. He should not come here while we are in mourning,” she said in the interview in Morning Joe.
“I would encourage the president’s staff members to have him do a little self-reflection. I would encourage them to show him his own words and his actions at the rallies.”
“Words have consequences,” she said.
“And the president has made my community and my people the enemy. He has told the country that we are people to be feared, people to be hated.”
It was later reported that the president planned to visit the scene of Saturday’s shooting Wednesday, and that of another mass shooting less than 24 hours later in Dayton, Ohio, in which nine people were killed.
The man police believe to be responsible for Saturday’s shooting, Patrick Crusius, 21, faces possible hate crime and domestic terrorism charges after allegedly opening fire in a packed Walmart.
Investigators believe that shortly before the attack he posted a document online, in which he declared he was acting to prevent an “Hispanic invasion” of Texas, in rhetoric that experts and political critics say echoes President Trump’s speeches condemning Hispanic immigration.
Trump in remarks at the White House Saturday condemned white supremacism, and singled out mental illness and “gruesome” video games as factors in the attacks.
“It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence,” he said.
“We must stop or substantially reduce this and it has to begin immediately.”
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