The damage is done.
President Trump went and weaponized our city as a political propaganda tool to push his personal “Build my Big, Beautiful Wall” agenda.
He looked America straight in the eye during his State of the Union Address and put us under his dark, manipulative spotlight, telling everybody that El Paso was once one of the most violent crime-ridden cities in America, but immediately after the local border wall was built, we magically transformed into one of the safest.
The president’s reputation for honesty is abysmal, and this whopper is on full rotation in his continuing effort to fulfill his absurd promise to his 35% base to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on a medieval wall straight out of the Dark Ages while ignoring real immigration reform.
Unfortunately, the collateral damage will not stop with his pre-meditated lie repeated on the national and international media stage.
Donald Trump is coming to town and his timing couldn’t be more perfect.
Less than a week after his incendiary, disingenuous and divisive SOTU address, Trump will roll his snake oil wagon into the El Paso Coliseum to sell his dubious elixirs to our city.
And he’s lining up El Pasoans to become salespeople for his xenophobic, fear-mongering, divisive and heartless immigration tactics.
Chants of “Build the wall! Build the wall! Build the wall!” will fill the Coliseum on Monday night.
What better city to manipulate as a political tool to push an unpopular wall than one on the border with plenty of anti-immigrant sentiment, a pro-wall mayor and loads of Trump love?
We may be 83% Latino but there is a surprising level of bitterness towards people who arrive at our doors looking for asylum and a better life for their families. And a lot of this anger comes from this very population.
Yes, we all know that they need to enter legally like our parents and abuelos did but America’s immigration system has degraded to a near-impossible maze of hoops and dollars and years that desperate people have to negotiate in mind-numbing and soul-crushing frustration.
We’ve witnessed firsthand the kind of abusive treatment the Trump administration subjects asylum seekers to right here on the border and yet, rather than deal with these human rights and immigration issues, we demand nothing more than a metaphoric wall that represents our deepest prejudices towards people of color south of our borders.
This Monday will be something of a litmus test for El Paso’s citizens and leaders.
It’s a moment in our history where one of America’s most polarizing and confounding presidents will roll into town, toss a figurative grenade into our midst and make every effort to divide us further in the name of his wall and his 2020 Re-election Tour.
Many will put on their Trump merch, make a holy pilgrimage to the Coliseum and sit at Trump’s feet as he delivers his Monday night sermon.
Many will organize and march with protest signs and rhyming chants fueled by fear and loathing.
Many will sit this one out.
I for one have downloaded my tickets to his rally, I’ll present them at the door, take a seat and watch El Paso history in the making along with several hundred fellow El Pasoans who I have serious disagreements with but are none-the-less my neighbors and fellow human beings.
I gave up on Trump long before he even became president but I’m not ready to give up on those who think in diametric opposition to me just yet.
I hope they feel the same way about me.
Otherwise we’re doomed as a country.
Whatever you do on Monday night, do it with your whole heart.
America will be watching.
Jud Burgess is a local graphic designer, business owner, and blogger who is involved in local activism efforts. judburgess.com / James No Bond on FB
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